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Colonel John W. Kimball. 







The Siege of Port Hudson. 










SEPT. 2, 1889. 


The work of writing the history of a regiment in the United 
States service a quarter of a century after the events in which it 
participated, would seem not easy ; but it sometimes happens 
that distance of time, as well as distance of space, will give us a 
clearer perception of objects we would examine, or events we 
would describe. 

The writer has been led into this work to endeavor to gratify 
the wishes often expressed by many members of the regiment, 
that its experiences might be gathered and put in tangible form 
for reference, and also in accordance with a vote passed at the 
"reunion of 1887 " requesting him to undertake it. His position 
as adjutant of the regiment naturally brought upon him the duty 
of keeping some account of its daily movements from beginning 
to end, and as it happens that for a large portion of the time he 
kept a private journal of all events of note, he had considerable 
data to build upon ; and the official records of the regiment at the 
State House, the private diaries of some members of the regi- 
ment, and the newspapers of the time have been at his service. 

It cannot be expected that a record of the operations of so 
small a portion of the great body of loyal men which subdued 
the gigantic rebellion of 1861-1865 w ^ have great interest for 
the general reader, although its daily life, its inarches, battles, 
sufferings, trials and triumphs constitute indeed an epitome of 


the experience of that great army through all those years of civil 

This book is written for the members of the regiment and 
those interested in them, and it is not presumed that it will have 
much circulation beyond. 

It has been the endeavor of the writer to give a complete 
history of its ten months' service; commencing with the recruit- 
ment of it and following it through all its varied experiences, in 
camp and held, on sea and land, until its final muster out. It 
has also been his aim to make the roll of members of the regi- 
ment as correct as possible ; and to this end the lists of all the 
companies have been copied from the Massachusetts Record of 
Volunteers and sent out to officers and members of the different 
companies for examination, resulting in the correction of many 
errors ; and it is believed the record is now very nearly correct. 

The sincere thanks of the writer are here tendered to all who 
have in any manner aided in this work, and especially to Chap- 
lain Whittemore for the use of his records, to Colonel Kimball 
for valuable suggestions and assistance, and to comrades Richard 
Tucker and T. A. Hills for efficient aid. 

The work, imperfect though it may be, is submitted by the 
author with the hope that the comrades will find as much satis- 
faction in reading its pages, as the retrospection has brought to 
him. H . a. w. 



Call for Nine Months Troops — Filling of Quotas — Formation of 
the Regiment— Camp Stevens— Colonel Kimball's Arrival— Field 
and Staff Officers — Life in Camp — Incidents — Correspondence — 
Departure for New York. .... Pages 9-27 


Arrival in New York — Camp at Long Island — Franklin Street Bar- 
racks — Life in the City — Sickness — Escort and Other Duty — 
Entertainments — Embarkation of the Regiment — Debarkation and 
Return to the Barracks — Interesting Incidents, Correspondence, 
etc. — Final Departure for the South. - - Pages 2S-4."> 


Sailing of the Continental — Journal of the. Voyage — Storm — 
Death and Burial at Sea — Arrival and Stop at Key West — Ar- 
rival at New Orleans — Debarkation at Carrollton — Camp Mans- 
field. ..------ Pages 4(i-58 


Camp Life at Carrollton — Orders — Sketches <>f Officers — Sickness- 
Hospitals — Quelling a Mutiny — Orders for a Move. Panes 59-66 


Departure for Baton Rouge — Magnolia Grove — Reconnoissance — An 
Onward Move of the Army towards Port Hudson — The Passage 
of the Fleet— Return to Baton Rouge — Departure for Algiers — 
Advance into the Enemy's Country. ... Pages (57-7G 


Battle of Four Bisland— March through the Teche Country— New 
Iberia, Vermilionville — Incidents — Opelousas — Congratulatory 
Orders— Official Reports— Death and Burial. - Pages 77-98 



Gathering of Cotton and Negroes — On the March Again — Death of 
Captain Dwight— Incidents Along the Route— Arrival at Alexan- 
dria — Departure for Simsport — Election of Officers. Pages 99-115 


March to Port Hudson — General Johnston's Letter — The Siege 
Commenced — Disposition of the Forces — General Assault. May 
27th — Disastrous Cross Firing in the Night — The Expedition 
to Clinton — Demand for Surrender — Another Assault Or- 
dered. -------- Pages llli-m 


The Defenses of Port Hudson — The Assault of June 14th— Comments 
Upon the Same — The Day. After the Battle — Dead and Wounded 
— The " Forlorn Hope." - Pages 135-149 


News from Vicksburg — Surrender of Port Hudson— Official Corre- 
spondence—Final Ceremonies— Colonel Kimball's Official Report 
— Incidents of the Siege— Biographical Notices. Pages 150-171 


Comments upon the Siege— Official Records of Vicksburg and Port 
Hudson Campaigns — Correspondence of Generals Grant and 
Banks — Donaldsonville — A Night Attack and a Gallant De- 
fense — Operations of Companies B and K — Orders for the Jour- 
ney Home. - - - - - - - Pages 172-1<>3 


Preparations for the Homevyard Journey— Embarkation on the Me- 
teor — Voyage to Cairo— Incidents en Route -Arrival in Fitch- 
burg and Grand Reception— Muster Out. - Pages 11H-21 1 

Appendix ....... Pages 213-215 

Roster of the Regiment ..... Pages 217-247 


Call fob Nine Months Troops — Filling of Quotas — Formation <>y 
the Regiment— Camp Stevens— Colonel Kimball's Arrival —Field 
and Staff Officers — Life in* Camp — Incidents — Correspondence — 
Departure for New York. 

In the summer of 1862, after the disastrous campaign 
of McClellan on the Peninsula, the immediate need of 
more troops being very urgent. President Lincoln issued a 
call for 300,000 men to serve for a period of nine months, 
and as a portion of the Massachusetts quota the Fifty-third 
Massachusetts Regiment came into existence. This call 
was in addition to the call for 300,000 troops to serve for 
three years, and was accompanied with an order for a 
draft, to take place August 15th, if the quota of the state 
was not made up before that time. 

A draft was distasteful to our people, it being hoped 
by them that all demands made by the government would 
be filled by volunteering, and although this was done 
under this call, it is a matter of history that during the 
next year a draft took place in Massachusetts, as well as 
many of the other states. The following is an extract 
from the order of Governor Andrew in relation to the rais- 
ing of troops : 

[ EXTRAC I . ] 

It is of the first importance that the men be raised as soon as 
possible, and the mayors of cities and selectmen of towns are 
urgently requested to exercise their official and personal influ- 
ence to furnish the quotas, and to enlist the active co-operation 


of all the patriotic men in the cities and towns in aid of the 

Let meetings be held in every city and town and measures be 
adopted to renew interest in the great cause. 

The government demands new regiments, and our brave men 
who have so nobly upheld the honor of Massachusetts, call 
loudly from the battle fields of the South to their brethren at 
home, to come forward at once and fill their decimated ranks, 
and take the places of the brave men who have fallen and 
suffered in the cause of the Union and of American Constitu- 
tional Liberty. 

By order of 

John A. Andrew, 

Governor and Commander-in-Chief. 
Wm, Schouler, Adjutant-General. 

When once the quota of the various states and towns 
had been ascertained organized efforts were put forth to 
secure volunteers to the required number. Most of the 
towns voted bounties to the soldiers. The amounts 
varied in the different towns but generally the amount 
paid was one hundred dollars each ; but in some cases 
two hundred dollars per man was paid. The next legis- 
lature passed an act refunding to the various cities and 
towns one hundred dollars for each volunteer furnished. 

While it could not be considered that this pittance of 
money would have itself induced men to take their lives in 
their hands and go to the battle field, yet it made it easier 
for men to leave their families with the feeling that in 
some measure their temporal wants were provided for. 

Men who enlisted for the bounty merely were not 
soldiers : they were called "bounty jumpers*' in those days. 


We had a few such recruited in Boston to till up Company 
C, but most of them disappeared before the regiment left 
its first camping ground. 

"War meetings" were held in most of the towns, and 
the enthusiasm of 1861 seemed in a great measure to have 
returned. In some of the towns business was practically 
suspended for a day or two, and the attention of all was 
turned to securing the necessary recruits. The meetings 
were addressed by prominent citizens, and the result in 
many communities was that the numbers offering exceeded 
considerably the demands made. 

Here is a specimen of the spirit of the times : 
At a meeting to procure recruits a father and son came 
forward to sign. The senior said: '"Mr. Chairman and 
fellow-citizens, I am but an humble individual, but my life 
is as sweet to me as is yours to you. I take it in my 
hands. I go to fight for the "stars and stripes'; I love 
them. I have an only son; he, too, will go. We will 
tight side by side. If we fall, be assured we fall like 
men. Will others do likewise?" To their credit be it 
said that many young men were ready to do so. Many 
youths of seventeen or eighteen years eagerly enrolled 
themselves, and the patriotic utterances of some of them 
are inspiring to-day. Said young Farwell of Company A, 
when they attempted to dissuade him, "Some must defend 
the country, and I feel it my duty to go.*' Young 
Kendall of the same company when remonstrated with 
against enlisting on account of his extreme youth, said, 
"Mother, if the men will not go to the war the boys must." 


Both of them lost their lives in the service. Occasionally 

one had the rashness to venture the opinion in the spirit of 

a braggart that he believed "a living dog better than a 

dead lion," and he would stay at home. — a sentiment 

which found no favor with the new recruits, — and similar 

talk brought from one of them the following published 

letter : 

Fitchburg, August 27. 1862. 

Much has been done in this town to encourage and procure 
enlistments. Meetings are held and speeches made by many of 
our noble and generous hearted citizens. But at those meetings 
1 have anxiously waited for a volunteer to speak, some one who 
can say come instead of go, for I sincerely believe one word from 
the former is worth a dozen spoken by the latter. It may not be 
so in my feeble efforts, but with your permission Mr. Editor, I 
would say a few words to the stay-at-homes, — lookers-on, — " not- 
called-upon-yet " part of our able-bodied citizens. 

( )h ! that I could rind words by which to approach the hearts 
of such, who, from "private reasons" refuse their names and 
their assistance from this great work, valuing more highly their 
own ease and comfort, than the sacred and priceless privileges of 
a free people which are in imminent danger daily of being over- 

True, 'tis hard, sad indeed to leave the dear ones at home, 
parents, brothers, sisters, wives, children, friends, all, to say 
nothing of one's business ; but let no man feel the responsibility 
and duty removed from his own shoulders, saving to himself. " I 
cannot leave so well as such a man can." " Let those go who 
want to go," etc. Who would go if all felt thus? Have we not 
all a sacrifice to make, and is any one free from the obligation 
who enjoys the civil rights of the land? One waits for another, 
saying to himself if such and such a one stay at home I can as 
well. Ah ! just here is the trouble. My friends, do your duty, 
be just to yourself, and ten chances to one your neighbor will go 


and do likewise — perhaps he already is waiting for you. How 
often has this been proved the present week in our midst ? 

Fitchburg has done nobly. More than is nominally required 
of her. But does duty stop here ? Our country is not safe yet. 
Now is the time to strike. Let us rill our two companies here. 
But there are some among us who have reason to blush, yes hide, 
that they have no more true patriotism and courage in their 
veins. Most truly the volunteers are ashamed of them. If 
anything hinders recruiting and discourages the soldier, it is the 
cold cheek of a stay-at-home friend. 

For instance, in our streets the other clay one of our volun- 
teers said "come" to an old friend and schoolmate, who replied, 
"Pooh! I can't go to war. I'd be a pretty fellow to spend 
twelve or fourteen hundred dollars to go to college, and then go 
to war and get shot — if I was going I'd not go as a private." 
Now what will our schools and colleges be worth if treason 
succeeds? Is not the graduate of such under greater obligations, 
if possible, to defend and maintain the same, and all that in our 
country is dear, than the laboring man ? Can he stoop to be a 
slave with all his increased means of usefulness? Does going to 
college simply unfit or elevate a man above wearing a blue shirt 
or remove his duty of shouldering a musket when his country 
calls? Certainly he need not discourage others from going. 

But such men are few among us. Look among our ranks and 
see the opposite example. By my side is^one who has spent all 
his time and means thus far in life for an education — a graduate 
too. In our brother company we see one who visits among the 
sick — privates, too, they are. All honor to such men. Had we 
more privates and fewer officers in this war we should have one 
less difficulty to contend with. The stanchions at the public 
crib are too near already ; men jostle against each other in their 
eagerness, while the braying is still heard from all directions. 
For one, I glory in being a private, — there is true honor in the 

And now, comrades in arms, a few words to you. Why have 
two hundred of us. nearly, from our quiet town, changed in one 


short week our peaceful occupation for the musket? Is it to 
better our condition? Is it that we have no sacrifice to make? 
No, far, far from it. 'Tis because we love our homes all the 
more : and the greater the sacrifice the dearer the object. Noth- 
ing is more repugnant to our feelings than war with all its 
horrors, "lis not our choice, as some would have it, but a firm 
conviction of duty before both God and man that brings us here. 
Sacrifices we have made that only each heart knows. And shall 
we ever regret this step? Never, no, never. We are not all "to 
get shot " — most if not all of us will return. And as we march 
through the streets of Fitchburg to the rescue of our brothers 
already in the field, and see here and there an acquaintance 
whom we think might go as well as we, but whose faint heart 
" impels " to stay at home, not one of us would change places 
with such a man. Already we feel the consciousness of duty 
clone, and with firm hearts, and trust in Him in whose hand are 
all our ways, will press on through thick and thin wherever duty 
calls, till all who dare assail the glorious banner be laid low, and 
truth and right 'shall reign throughout the land. Then we will 
return to our homes in peace, ever through life to rejoice in the 

thought that I was 

A Volunteer. 

Death or an honorable life seemed indeed to be the 
sentiment dominating many hearts. 

It was natural that the men enlisting from any par- 
ticular locality should wish to be associated together, and 
authority was obtained, and companies were raised from 
the towns of northern Worcester and Middlesex counties 
as follows : 

Two companies were mainly from Fitchburg, one from 
Leominster, one from Ashby, Townsend and Shirley, one 
from Gardner and Templeton, one from Winchendon and 
Hubbardston, one from Ashburnham, Lancaster and 


Clinton, one from Sterling and Princeton, one from Barre 
and Petersham, one from Athol, Royalston and New 

These companies were nearly all filled by Sept. ist. 
' They rendezvoused at "Camp Stevens," Groton Junction, 
about Oct. i st, and were mostly mustered into the United 
States service on the 17th of October, 1862. 

"Camp Stevens" was named in memory of Major- 
General Isaac I. Stevens, who had just lost his life while 
gallantly leading a charge at the battle of Chantilly, Sept. 
ist, 1862. He was born at Andover, Mass., in 1818, was 
a graduate of West Point in 1839 at tne nea( * of nis class. 
He served in the Mexican war and was bre vetted captain 
for crallant and meritorious service at Contreras, Cheru- 
busco and Chapultepec, and again brevetted major for 
bravery displayed at the storming of the San Cosme Gate. 
He resigned from the army in 1853 ; was appointed 
governor of Washington Territory by President Pierce, 
and represented that territory in congress from 1857 to 
1861. At the outbreak of the civil war he at once 
tendered his services and was made colonel of the 
Seventy-ninth New York Regiment (Highlanders), and 
before his death had been promoted to brigadier and 
major-general. He had distinguished himself in several 
engagements previous to the one in which he fell. 

The material composing this regiment was rather 
above the average of such bodies. The whole number of 
officers and men was 950 ; the oldest 52 years, youngest 


15 years : average age ot" the regiment 26 7-10 years. 
There were 76 occupations represented : 

Farmers, 322 : mechanics, 144 : laborers, So : carpen- 
ters, 29: clerks, 27 : painters, 26: coopers, 12 : machinists. 
21 ; shoemakers, 18; students. 15: merchants, 8 : millers, 
1 1 : manufacturers, 10 ; moulders, 4 : paper makers, 7 : 
pedlars, 4: scythe makers, q: tailors, 4: turners, 10: 
weavers, 4 ; butchers, 4 ; teamsters, 17 : chair makers, 13 : 
blacksmiths. 12: physicians, 5; railroad men, 10; law- 
yers, 6 ; bank cashier, 1 ; bank clerks, 2 ; book-keepers, 
4 : engineers, 4 : hostlers. 7 : masons, 5 ; printers, 7 ; comb 
makers, 6; apothecaries, 2 ; bakers, 2; cabinet makers, 
3 : carriage makers, 2 ; carvers, 2 ; engravers, 3 ; grinders, 
3 : harness makers, 3 ; piano makers, 2 ; polishers, 2 ; 
sailors, 2 : stone cutters, 2 : tanners, 2 : tinmen, 3 ; traders, 
2 ; and one each of the following — artist, auctioneer, 
barber, brick maker, currier, caulker, clergyman, clicker, 
cook, gardener, grocer, jeweller, knitter, lumber dealer, 
marble worker, nailer, overseer, pattern maker, photogra- 
pher, rattan worker, reed maker, sawyer, sickle cutter, 
teacher, turnkey, waiter. 

Nativity: Americans, 870: foreign, 80, as follows — 
Ireland. 45: England, 10: Canada, 10: Germany, 6: 
Scotland. 4: Nova Scotia. 2 ; New Brunswick, 1 : France, 
1 : Australia, 1. 

These companies had been raised under authority from 
the state of Massachusetts as militia companies — an ar- 
rangement which it will be seen hereafter caused us some 
embarrassment after getting into the field, although it 


aided enlistments as the men could know who were to be 
their immediate comrades and were allowed to elect their 
own officers. 

The ten companies were designated as the Fifty-third 
Regiment, which was temporarily placed under command 
of Captain Wesley Sawyer of the Twenty-third Massa- 
chusetts Regiment, who had been wounded in one of the 
battles in North Carolina, and was now on detached 

For six weeks the regiment remained at this point, 
receiving rudimentary instruction in a soldier's duties and 
discipline, and preparing itself, as well as it might, for the 
experience which sooner or later must come to it. 

The regiment was very comfortably situated in their 
camp, and the following extracts from letters written by 
private soldiers of the regiment during the time will show 
the manner of life spent there : 

" The camp is high and dry, and in as healthy a location as 
camps will average. The ground is slightly rolling, with a sandy 
soil which, though rather dusty in dry weather, is never very 
muddy in wet weather, and soon becomes dry. The obstructions 
were far from being as numerous as represented and are all 
removed, and the surface has become smooth as a house floor. 
The barracks are well made, and as convenient and comfortable 
as could be desired. The fare is excellent — as good as any 
soldier could ask for. It consists of substantial diet, such as 
potatoes, meat, rice, etc., with coffee for breakfast and tea for 
supper, on which the boys are growing wonderfully fat and 
robust, even now boasting appetites such as they never have en- 
joyed. All the companies are now in camp, although not all full. 
The whole number in camp is about 850. 


" Last Friday, Governor Andrew and council visited the camp, 
and reviewed the troops. The regimental line was formed at 
2 o'clock, and the Gardner band played 'Hail to the Chief as he 
passed. Gardner may well be proud of her noble band. They 
sustained their former reputation on this occasion. 

" The ladies of Groton, bless their gentle souls, presented us 
with a beautiful Mag on Saturday. The presentation speech was 
made in their behalf by Captain Fay of Athol, and a noble, 
patriotic speech it was too. Captain Sawyer replied in a most 
happy manner, after which the flag was slowly raised, the crowd 
cheering as it ascended. Music by the Hopkins band, and the 
Groton musical club, who performed several patriotic airs in a 

splendid style." 


" Henry Waters died very suddenly of pleurisy. He felt 
unwell the afternoon previous, and at 3 o'clock in the morning- 
was a corpse. This is the first death that has occurred in the 

" We are very happy to express our thanks for the generous 
remembrances in the shape of fruit from the Hon. Alvah Crocker 
and others. They were all gratefully received, and call back 
happy thoughts of home, and the dear ones left behind. Ah, yes 
we shall be remembered. We know ' they miss us at home." 
There are many vacant chairs, many firesides saddened by the 
departure of loved ones. Like the autumn leaves that are 
dropped from the trees, so the poor freemen are leaving their 
homes, and gathering on the field beneath the folds of the old 
flag. What, but the greatness of the cause, could call forth so 
many peace-loving men from their homes to risk life and limb on 
the bloody field ? Could love of money, or honor, or fame ? No, 
none of these, for what are all compared with life ? We love 
home and kindred and friends as well as any one, but when we 
remember that a great and mighty nation is struggling for ex- 
istence, that the glorious sun of freedom is just beginning to 
dawn on millions of down trodden people, that Christianity with 
all its benignant influences must either stand or fall — when we 


remember all this we can throw everything else aside, and press 
on toward the consummation, be it life or death." 

"On Wednesday of last week Captain Sawyer took a squad 
of men from the camp and proceeded to Groton Junction for the 
purpose of destroying an Irish liquor shop. The party armed 
themselves with axes and picks, and upon reaching the house at 
once commenced the destruction of the liquor. About twenty 
barrels of poor liquor was summarily disposed of, and the men 
taken charge of and brought to camp. Captain Sawyer was 
afterwards tried before a justice at Groton for destroying the 
liquor, and put under bonds of $4,000 to appear at a higher 
court. Whether the captain had a legal right to destroy the 
liquor your correspondent will not attempt to say, but we know 
that the men of the regiment are satisfied that he acted right, and 
from sound motives. Such a place as the one demolished, so 
near a camp, is a nuisance which ought to be abated some way." 

" The men are in good health and spirits, and early expect 
the United States officers to swear them into the service of the 
United States. Last Sabbath the Rev. Mr. Heard, of Clinton, 
preached at the camp in the morning, from the text ' I came 
not to send peace but a sword.' The afternoon was occupied 
with advice to the soldiers, and the singing by a choir of 
volunteers was excellent. Prayer meetings after the good old 
Fitchburg style have been established every Sabbath and 
Wednesday evenings, and the state of religion in camp is very 

"John E. Terrill, of Townsend, a notorious scoundrel was 
drummed out of camp for gambling with the soldiers. The 
regiment was drawn up in two lines, and he marched between 
them to the tune of ' Rogues' March.' A large placard was 
placed upon his back upon which was inscribed ' gambler.' " 

" The members of the Barre company have formed an associa- 
tion called the ' Band of Brothers Mutual Benefit Society,' which 
has for its object the promotion of the comfort and happiness of 


each and every member, whether in health or sickness, and in 
case any brother is taken away to send his remains at the earliest 
possible moment to his friends. Though it matters not to the 
soldier's clay whether it rests within the village churchyard, or 
beneath the wild wood on a distant shore, yet it affords consola- 
tion to friends, and it is a pleasant thought to think that we shall 
sleep beside the loved ones gone before, and that a stranger's 
hand will never disturb our slumbers." 

" Last Saturday morning a beautiful flag staff, the gift of 
Oliver Ames & Son, of Boston, to the commandant of the camp, 
was presented by Mr. Taft, the builder of the barracks. The 
presentation speech was made by Captain Fay of the Athol com- 
pany. Captain Sawyer responded in a very patriotic and eloquent 
manner. The stars and stripes were then unfurled from it, and 
beneath its starry folds the Washington Guards ( Co. B ) took 
their oath to defend it to the last. This part of the ceremony 
was concluded by singing the soul-stirring song 'Three Hundred 
Thousand More.' " 

"November ist nearly all the troops in camp were granted a 
furlough until Nov. 6th, to enable them to visit their homes and 
cast their votes at the state election. On Nov. 6th Company 
C was mustered into the United States service and an election of 
officers held." 

Under date of November 8th, one writes : 

" We have for two days past had anything but pleasant 
weather, and it has forced the soldiers to dispense with all labor 
outside of the barracks, except the guard who have to tough it 
through thick and thin. Yesterday and last night it snowed 
and blowed furiously, so that this morning we had some three 
inches of snow. 

"Captain Sawyer, the gentlemanly commandant of the post. 
had the guard all drawn off last night, so that no one had to face 
the cold breath of 'Old Koreas.' " 

The regular routine of military life in camp was kept 
up during the time the regiment remained here, daily 


company and battalion drills were held, with the usual 
guard mountings and dress parades, and the other inferior 
duties of the camp. On Saturday, the 22d of November, 
the whole regiment were granted furloughs to visit their 
friends at home over Sunday, for the last time previous 
to their departure for the seat of war. One writes of this 
incident : 

" ' Homeward Bound,' so sang the soldier boys of the Fifty- 
third Regiment, as the train steamed away from Camp Stevens 
on Saturday last, bearing its load of blue coats to their several 
homes amid the hills and valleys of Worcester North. A merry 
hearted group they were as they passed along their ways. 
Above the rattling of the cars could be heard those grand, 
patriotic airs, which no one but a soldier can sing with effect." 

"The ladies of Fitchburg, bless their noble and motherly 
hearts, appeared upon the ground early this morning, and have 
been busily engaged in hemming blankets, and putting pockets in 
the soldiers' coats. They have the warmest thanks of the 
soldiers' hearts, and their kindness will ever be remembered and 

"All our equipments have been received and it is probable 
we shall leave soon — perhaps by Friday." 

On the 8th of November Lieutenant-Colonel John W. 
Kimball, who had served with great distinction in the 
Fifteenth Massachusetts Regiment, and who had been for 
some time in command of it, was elected colonel of the 
Fifty-third Regiment, and on the 29th of November he 
arrived and assumed command. Captain George H. Bar- 
rett, of Ashburnham, was elected lieutenant-colonel, and 
Captain James A. Pratt, of Sterling, was elected major. 


Colonel Kimball announced his commissioned staff as 
follows : Adjutant, Henry A. Willis, of Fitchburg ; sur- 
geon, John Q.. A. McCollester, of Groton ; assistant sur- 
geon, Wm. L. Bond, of Charlestown ; 2d assistant surgeon, 
Wm. M. Barrett, of Fitchburg ; quartermaster, Edward A. 
Brown, of Royalston ; chaplain, Benj. F. Whittemore, of 
Berlin. The non-commissioned staff subsequently ap- 
pointed were as follows : Sergeant-major, Harlan P. 
Partridge, of Fitchburg ; quartermaster-sergeant, Herman 
M. Partridge of Royalston ; commissary-sergeant, James 
R. Brown, of Barre ; hospital steward-, Chas. G. Allen, of 
Barre ; drum-major, Edwin D. Atherton, of Fitchburg; 
fife-major, James M. Lewis, of Leominster. 

Upon assuming command the colonel made a speech 
to the regiment; complimented them upon their fine ap- 
pearance, and said he believed he should be able to rely 
upon them in any emergency, and hoped that the ex- 
perience already acquired by him on the field might be of 
benefit to them. He said that they were going into a 
service of hardship and danger but he would assure them 
that he would not ever ask them to go into any position 
' where he would not ^o himself. He was most enthusiasti- 
cally received. 

Having just come from the front he was granted a few 
days to visit his family at Fitchburg. While at Fitchburg 
he was presented with a tine horse and set of equipments 
by a few of his friends, and the following correspondence 
took place : 

"('01.. John \Y. Kimball : — We, the undersigned, your fellow 
townsmen and personal friends, on the eve of your departure. 


with higher rank and added honors, for further service in your 
country's cause, beg of you the acceptance of the horse and 
trappings accompanying this letter, not as any measure of our re- 
gard for you, but as a slight testimonial of our admiration for 
those soldierly and manly qualities which have already gained for 
you an honored name in the history of war. We know that you 
will believe us, when we say that this is no empty tribute to 
position and office, but the expression of a regard as sincere and 
warm as it is merited. While the courage and glorious conduct 
of the regiment which you have led through so many trying 
scenes of patient endurance and bloody conflict have attracted 
the attention and elicited the applause of a whole nation, who 
knew nothing of it but its name, it would be strange indeed if the 
hearts of those who have been associated with the gallant men of 
that regiment and its noble leader, in the intimate, private and 
social relations of neighbors and friends, did not thrill at the 
recital of its splendid record. To those who have nobly fallen in 
the strife to sustain a nation's honor and a country's name, we 
have endeavored to do such homage as to show that we hold 
their names in grateful and reverent remembrance. Let us also 
have the satisfaction of testifying to the living heroes in this con- 
flict, our deep appreciation of the self-sacrificing and devoted 
spirit which has conducted them through the path of duty to an 
undying fame. 

" We have entrusted to your custody and command a new 
draft from our best and freshest blood, and we feel that we could 
commit it to no safer or more conscientious care. Accept for 
yourself, and for the young men who go from us with you, our 
best wishes and our sincere hope for a safe and honorable return 
to our midst at the termination of your appointed service. " 

[Signed] Alvah Crocker, 

Ebenezer Torrey, 
T. K. Ware, 
L. H. Bradford, 

and 39 others. 

24 the fifty-third regiment 

colonel kimball's reply. 

"Hon. Ai.yaii Crocker, Hon. Ebenezer Torrey, T. K. Ware, 
F. H. Bradford, Esquires, vnd Others: 

" Gentlemen : — With feelings of the deepest gratitude I accept 
the gift of the noble horse and beautiful trappings so generously 
and kindly provided for me by your exertions and liberality. Ac- 
cept my earnest and most sincere thanks for the same. 1 shall 
prize the gift more highly because it came unexpectedly, and from 
old and tried friends whom I have loved, honored and respected 
for many years. In accepting this testimonial, 1 do so, feeling that 
it is given not to reward me. but to show that my services in the 
held during the past few months are appreciated and recognized 
by you. If I have done aught that my friends at home feel is 
worthy of notice, I am well repaid for the dangers, privations and 
hardships to which I have been, with others, exposed. I claim 
nothing for myself. I have only done the duty which 1 owed to 
my country and to my fellow-citizens. 

" If the noble old regiment — the Fifteenth — which I have 
had the honor of commanding for the past seven months, has 
earned and won for itself a name worthy of record, and a place 
in history, it is to it that the honor belongs, and not to me, 
for it was the united determination of officers and men to do 
their duty at all times and under all circumstances, that has 
earned for them, honorably and justly, the name and the fame 
which they have acquired. 

" I need not remind you of the sufferings they have endured 
without a murmur, and the great sacrifice of life in behalf of their 
country, which has so fearfully thinned their ranks. It has been 
very great indeed : the dust of many a brave soldier of the 
Fifteenth hallows the hillsides and valleys of Virginia and Mary- 
land, and that ground, though held by traitorous hands, is still 
sacred and dear to us: and by the memories of the noble dead, 
now sleeping their last sleep far away from their friends and 
homes, let us pursue this war more vigorously and earnestly to an 
early and successful termination; by the memories of the heroes 


who fell at Ball's Bluff, Fair Oaks, and Antietam, as well as of 
those who have passed away none the less honorably because not 
in battle, we must, we will, conquer. 

" In leaving you, to take my new command, it is fitting that I 
should say a word of the men who compose this new regiment. 
I found them to be men who have left their homes mostly from a 
patriotic sense of duty — men who are worthy of the 'Old Bay 
State.' It will be my constant endeavor to watch over and care 
for them, and if my past experience is of any value, it is theirs 
freely and cheerfully. 

" I make no promise for the future, except that we shall at 
all times endeavor to do our duty to the best of our ability, keep- 
ing in view the noble cause in which we are engaged, and 
remembering that our friends at home are watching our course 
with great anxiety and deep solicitude, and praying for our 
success and safe return. 

" Thanking you again for this kind remembrance, and hoping 
to be able to show you that I highly appreciate this expression of 
your confidence and esteem, I have the honor to remain, 
Most respectfully your obedient servant, 
John W. Kimball, 

Colonel of Fifty-third Regiment." 

This horse, known as "Prince," was shipped from New 
York with the horses of this and other regiments, to the 
number of three hundred, by the "Belle Wood'" bound for 
New Orleans. The trip lasted thirty days and there was 
much sickness among them, and twelve died. "Prince" 
was very sick on board and it was at one time decided to 
despatch him and throw him overboard, but the man in 
charge of him, Charles Battles, protested against it and 
insisted that he could bring him through. The officer in 
command demurred, saying, "he could not live half an 
hour," but finally allowed him to remain a while, and in a 


few hours a favorable change took place and he was 
saved. He did good service in the campaign, and came 
home with us, and has done good service for Colonel 
Kimball for many years. He still lives at the age of 
thirty-one, but now is getting infirm and soon will be laid 
to rest. His last appearance with the regiment was at the 
reunion of 1887 in Fitchburg, when the colonel rode him 
at the head of the regiment, on a parade through the city. 
The men were greatly pleased to see him and before 
separating voted that his photograph should be taken, 
with the colonel mounted, and a copy furnished each 
member of the regiment, which has since been done. 

The day for the departure of the regiment finally came. 
Early in the day the order had been given to break camp ; 
and by the middle of the afternoon the men were in line 
ready to move. A large number of the friends of the 
regiment were there to bid them " good-bye'' and "God 
speed." Fathers were there with manly pride in their 
brave sons, rejoicing that they could thus send them 
forth, — mothers whose love for them grew no less because 
their love for country was leading them away from them 
for a time, perhaps forever, — wives whose grief at parting- 
could hardly be controlled, — sisters who gloried in their 
brothers' valor, — and little children delighted with the 
pageant, and whose prattle went on all unconscious of the 
serious results which might ere long come to them by 
reason of it. The regiment was soon in motion and 
marched to the train which awaited it. The last good- 
byes were said and amid the cheers of those gathered 


there the train bore away to the conflict another loyal 
thousand of the country's brave defenders. 

The Fitchburg Reveille, speaking of the composition 
of this regiment, has the following : 

" It is no disparagement to the many thousands of brave men 
whom Massachusetts has given to the country, to say that no 
regiment superior to the Fifty-third has ever left her borders. 
It is composed of the flower of the young men of Worcester 
North, who have left honorable social positions and lucrative 
business, with high purposes and pure patriotism, counting the 
cost, fully understanding the hardship, danger and death they go 
forth to meet, yet quietly resolute, and determined to maintain 
the fame which the Fifteenth, the Twenty-first and the Twenty- 
fifth have won for the heart of Massachusetts. And they go out 
under a leader of whom Massachusetts may well be proud, whose 
gallant conduct on many a bloody field has crowned his name 
with undying honor. We know that he and his noble men will 
ever be found where duty and glory call, resolute to achieve the 
victory or die ; and that upon the banner of the Fifty-third will 
be inscribed the record of gallant deeds." 


Arrival in New York— Camp at Long Island— Franklin Street Bar- 
racks — Life in the City — Sickness — Escort and Other Duty — 
Entertainments — Embarkation of the Regiment — Debarkation and 
Return to the Barracks— Interesting Incidents, Correspondence, 
etc.— Final Departure for the South. 

The regiment left the state under command of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Barrett for New York on the 29th of 
November, arriving there the 30th, and was quartered at 
the Park Barracks until December 3d, when it was or- 
dered to Camp Banks, near Jamaica, Long Island. 

Here the exposure and suffering of the men first com- 
menced. Up to this time they had lived in comfortable 
barracks at Camp Stevens, and had been well fed and 
otherwise cared for. Now they were forced to occupy a 
bleak spot known as the " Union Race Course," and were 
provided only with common shelter tents for protection 
trom the weather, with the mercury ranging near the zero 
point. In addition to this the regiment as yet had no 
quartermaster, and the provisioning of it was let out to 
mercenary contractors, who furnished food scant in quan- 
tity and repulsive in quality. As day by day the situation 
grew worse rather than better what wonder was it that 
what commenced as slight murmuring increased to out- 
right grumbling and indignant protest, but with no avail, 
and open revolt seemed imminent. Matters thus remained 
until Sunday morning, December 7th. It had been an 
exceedingly cold night, several inches of snow having 


fallen. Some of the men had actually been frost-bitten. 
Breakfast was not forthcoming, and some of the men had 
strayed away the night before to the village of Jamaica, 
and had been taken in and cared for by the citizens, and 
they reported that there was " room for more." The 
effect was that to a certain extent demoralization set in. 
The major being in command, (the lieutenant-colonel 
being absent,) finding that the people of Jamaica were 
anxious to relieve the sufferings of the men, by providing 
means of shelter from the inclemency of the weather, gave 
the captains permission to march their companies into the 
town, where the citizens threw open their stores and 
houses and made them comfortable for the night. In the 
morning they provided them with a substantial breakfast. 
They were then addressed by ex-Governor King, who 
complimented them upon their manly, soldierly bearing 
while among them, and expressed an interest in their 
future welfare ; after which the regimental line was formed 
and three rousing cheers were given for the people of the 

The following resolutions, which had been prepared, 
were left for publication in the local papers : 


Whereas, it has been the fortune of this regiment to be thrown, 
as it were, into the town of Jamaica, to seek shelter from the 
inclemency of the severe winter weather ; and whereas, the 
good people of the town have received us into their families 
and given us plenty to eat and done all that Christian hearts 
could prompt them to do, therefore : 


Resolved^ That we, the members of the Fifty-third Regiment 
Massachusetts Volunteers, tender to them our sincere thanks and 
heartfelt gratitude for their many favors extended to us, and we 
ask God Almighty to bless them, and may they be as happy in 
bestowing, as we have been in receiving, and again may God 
bless the good people of Jamaica. 

It should be stated that the arrangement for the regi- 
ment spending the night at Jamaica was brought about 
mainly by Lieutenant Glover of Company C, who went 
there Sunday morning and represented to some of the 
principal citizens the suffering condition of the regiment, 
which resulted in the invitation to bring the men out there, 
and the subsequent kind treatment received. He reported 
to Major Pratt who, as before stated, gave permission for 
the men to go. The experience was certainly like an 
oasis in the desert and the men who partook of their hos- 
pitality have held and will hold it in grateful remembrance 
until their dying day. 

Meantime reports of the condition and suffering of the 
men had been made at headquarters in New York, and 
about three o'clock Sunday afternoon the adjutant returned 
from the city with a written order to the lieutenant-colonel 
commanding the regiment to transfer it immediately to 
the Franklin street barracks in New York. 

As it was late in the day, and the men were com- 
fortably housed at Jamaica, it was wisely determined not 
to disturb them until the next morning. On Monday 
morning, December 8th, the regiment returned to its 
camp, and at nine o'clock marched for the city, a distance 
of about thirteen miles, and it is safe to say that the men 


never subsequently entered into any other march with 
more alacrity than this one which took them out of what 
should have been a needless hardship into comparative 
comfort. Colonel Kimball arrived the next day and took 

It cannot be questioned that much of the sickness 
which afterwards prevailed grew out of the unwarranted 
exposure on Long Island at this inclement season of the 

Franklin street barracks consisted of two adjoining 
stores, of four stories each, just off from Broadway, and 
this proved to be the home of the regiment for a much 
longer period than might reasonably have been expected. 

Much sickness soon prevailed. Scarlatina came as an 
epidemic, and a large portion of the regiment were af- 
fected in a greater or less degree — several deaths occurred. 
Among them young Dunlap of Company D, and Esta- 
brook of Company K, both under eighteen years of age. 
The case of Estabrook was particularly sad. He had 
enlisted after the regiment reached New York, and was 
almost the last recruit mustered into service. His older 
brother had been a member of Company K from its forma- 
tion, and Joseph had a great desire to go also, which 
increased to such a degree after the regiment left the state 
that he could resist it no longer, and came on to New 
York and enlisted. He was taken with typhoid fever and 
had been sick but a few days, and was considered com- 
fortable, but a sudden change came, and he was gone in 
thirty minutes. He died on the evening of January 3d, in 


the barracks hospital, only about three weeks after he had 
joined the regiment. The preparing of his remains for 
burial, and the sending them home next day in charge of 
his brother and sister, was attended to by the officers of 
his company, and the sad episode had a depressing effect 
upon all. Young Dunlap was from Stow, and had only 
just returned from a term of sickness at home — a relapse 
of which taking place he died very suddenly. His re- 
mains were also sent home. 

Another disease, the mumps, also prevailed exten- 
sively, and to say the least, while not of a dangerous 
character, it did not add anything to the beauty of the 
" hospital contingent," as they stood up each morning for 
the inspection of the surgeon. 

The regiment remained about six weeks in New York 
by reason of the great amount of sickness. Of course 
there could be but little military duty done, and only a 
small guard was required to keep order. Regular com- 
pany drills, however, were daily required and the company 
commanders, at their discretion, took out their companies 
for street drill, sometimes marching them long distances. 
Good discipline was maintained ; only a few men were 
allowed out at any time to roam about the city, and none 
after nightfall. 

The following order of calls was adopted for the gov- 
ernment of the regiment at this time : 

Headquarters Fifty-third Regt. Mass. Vols. 

Franklin Street Barracks, 
General Order. New York, Dec. 26, 1862. 

The following list of calls is hereby ordered for the govern- 
ment of this regiment until further orders. They must be strictly 
conformed to. 


Reveille, 6.30 A. M. ; surgeon's call, 6.45; breakfast, 7.30; 
first sergeant's call, 8.30; first call for guard mounting, 8.45; 
guard mounting, 8.55 ; first call for company drill, 9.15 ; second 
call for company drill, 9.25; recall, 11.00; adjutant's call, 12.00 
M. ; dinner, 12.30 P. M . ; squad drill in barracks, 2.00 to 4.00; 
retreat, 4.30; supper, 5.00; tattoo, 8.30; taps, 9.00. 

Three roll calls daily : First, immediately after reveille ; 
second, immediately after retreat ; third, immediately after tattoo. 
All absentees without authority will be immediately reported 
to these headquarters. 

By command of 

J. W. Kimball, 

Colonel Commanding. 
H. A. Willis, Adjutant. 

With the prospect of an indefinite stay in the city the 
regiment settled down to a condition of comparative con- 
tent and comfort. The men were comfortably housed, 
their duties were light, and they were allowed as much 
liberty as was compatible with good discipline. 

They got up many entertainments among themselves, 
and some were furnished them through the efforts of the 
chaplain and others. 

It was now Christmas time and the city was gay. 
Permission was given the men to go out in squads, under 
an officer, to attend theatres and other places of amuse- 

Several of the wives of officers of the regiment came at 
this time and taking board near the barracks were fre- 
quent visitors, and their presence gave much pleasure to 

As the distance was so great to any open space in the 
city no regimental evolutions could be indulged in, and 


the regiment paraded on the streets during its stay only 
upon Sundays to attend divine service, and once by invita- 
tion as an escort to a California cavalry company, which 
arrived by steamer from the Isthmus January 3d, and was 
on its way to Massachusetts to join the Second Cavalry 
Regiment. This was an interesting occasion, for many of 
the members of the company were old Massachusetts men, 
who, true to their instincts, had come back to unite with 
their brethren in defense of principles which their native 
state had always been foremost in upholding. The day 
was fine, the regiment was in good form. It marched to 
city hall park where it formed and received the company 
with due ceremony. The march was then resumed 
and the route was as follows : Up Broadway to the St. 
Nicholas Hotel, there countermarching, and thence down 
Broadway and Courtland street to the steamboat pier ; 
from whence, after informal soldiers' greetings and enthu- 
siastic cheers, the company took its departure for Massa- 
chusetts. Great enthusiasm was exhibited all along the 
route and the men enjoyed the occasion to the utmost. 

On the morning of December 15th, there came an 
order for two hundred men to be sent to Staten Island 
(New York Harbor) to guard and put on board ship the 
"Duryea Zouave Regiment" of New York troops, one of 
the "Zouave" regiments recruited in New York City and 
which contained some of the worst "toughs" to be found. 

Companies A, B and K were at once detailed, and 
under command of Major Pratt marched to the pier and 
took the ferry boat for the island. Arriving there they 


were ordered to load, and were properly posted about the 
camp of the belligerents, who appeared in a very turbulent 
condition ; but they were soon brought to a realizing sense 
of the presence of a couple of hundred loaded muskets, 
and yielded to the orders of their officers without much 
force being resorted to. About fifty of the ringleaders 
were arrested and placed under guard and the rest 
marched at the point of the bayonet aboard the ship bound 
for their destination. The three companies then returned 
to the city, excepting a squad left to guard the prisoners, 
which returned the next morning. 

Sunday, December 14, the regiment paraded to attend 
service at a church three miles from our quarters, (Rev. 
Mr. Mattison's on Forty-first street). The men presented 
a fine appearance, and made the march in good order. 
The chaplain preached for the first time. His text was, 
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the 
things which we have heard, lest at any time we should 
let them slip."— Hebrews 11 : 1. The singing was fur- 
nished by about forty members of the regiment. Says 
one in writing of this occasion : 

" After the sermon a few remarks were made by the pastor of 
the church, who ' Rejoiced to welcome the sons of Massachusetts, 
where no rebel foot had ever polluted the sacred precincts.' The 
stars and stripes floated from a staff in front of the church, in- 
spiring us with patriotic emotions. When the reverend gentleman 
had finished, the Sabbath school children connected with his 
society came in around the altar, immediately in front of all, and 
sang a beautiful hymn, entitled ' Beautiful Land.' Many a stout 
heart was stirred from its deepest centre as the sweet voices of 


childhood brought up the recollections of home, and big' tears 
furrowed their way down bronzed and manly cheeks. The 
colonel craved the privilege of saying a word, which had a wealth 
of meaning and fervor. He spoke from the heart and each sen- 
tence reached the heart. 

" By invitation of the chaplain the regiment then rose and 
sang ' America ' as it was never sung before, for the children lent 
their aid, and the silvery tones of youth chimed in with the 
strong, harmonious chords of manhood in ' God bless our native 
land.' The lieutenant-colonel presided at the organ, and the 
major was prominent among the choir, which was formed from 
the regiment." 

It is pleasant to note the fact here that the authorities 
of the German Lutheran church in Walker street, quite 
near our barracks, tendered the use of their church for 
Sunday afternoons for the remainder of the time the regi- 
ment might remain in the city. During the remaining 
Sundays, except one when services were held in the 
barracks on account of so much sickness, the regiment 
accepted the kind offer. On such occasions the chap- 
lain conducted the services, and preached a sermon. 
The lieutenant-colonel played the organ, and the singing 
was done by a large choir, composed of some of the 
officers and men of the regiment. It may as well be 
said here that we had an unusual number of good singers 
among us, and the impromptu social sings which were in- 
dulged in from time to time did much to enliven the 
tedium, and soften the asperities of the service. Regular 
Sunday morning inspections of the regiment were held, 
and others from time to time especially ordered from 


headquarters. One of these drew forth the following 
letter from General Andrews commanding : 

Headquarters Remainder of Banks Expedition, 

New York, Jan. 7, 1863. 

Colonel Kimball, Commanding Fifty-third Regiment: 

Colonel : — The report of the inspecting officer, elated January 
6th, relative to your regiment, is to the following purport : 

"The policing good, rooms all neat and clean, except the 
exercise room, bunks in good order, blankets and clothes 
neatly folded, and kept in racks. The officers are present. The 
regiment has apparently improved very much in discipline and 
drill during the last two weeks, and hospital in good condition." 

The commanding officer desires to express his great satisfac- 
tion in receiving so favorable a report, and heartily commends 
the commanding officer and his command for their exertions in a 
matter which cannot fail to have a most important influence upon 
their usefulness to the country as well as their own welfare. 
By command of 

Brigadier-General G. L. Andrews. 
Howard Dwight, A. A. G. 

During the time spent here the regiment had once em- 
barked for its destination in the South, having been 
ordered on board the steamer Mississippi on the 16th of 
December. But after remaining on board two days, dur- 
ing which time eighteen new cases of scarlatina had 
broken out, the colonel and his medical staff made a re- 
port to headquarters of the condition of affairs, and the 
medical director upon inspection decided that it was 
unsafe to proceed to sea with so much sickness of an 
epidemic nature. Accordingly the regiment was disem- 
barked and returned to Franklin street barracks, where it 


remained until January 17th, when it was embarked on 
board the steamer Continental, which sailed under sealed 
orders January 19. Up to this time eight deaths had oc- 
curred in the regiment. It is tearful to contemplate what 
might have been the result if we had gone to sea with this 
epidemic disease among the men, in such crowded 
quarters, on a voyage which might have been as rough 
and protracted as the one we subsequently took. Fortu- 
nate indeed it was that wise counsels prevailed. 

The following extracts from letters of men of the 
regiment while stationed in New York are of interest : 


"At a little past 12 o'clock, Wednesday last, we took up our 
line of march for the 'Union Course,' Long Island, ( which is 
about eleven miles from the city) via Williamsburg Ferry, arriving 
there at 4 P. M., having had a knapsack march of nine miles. 
We passed the Forty-first Massachusetts and the Fifteenth New 
Hampshire Regiments, en route to join Major-General Banks' ex- 
pedition ; upon our arrival, rations were dealt out to us, and after 
partaking freely we re-marched about half a mile to an open 
horse shed, belonging to and near Hiram Woodruff's hotel, where 
we were allowed to sleep upon the ground for the night. How 
romantic to lay one's weary limbs during a cold night on the 
same spot where that famous horse, Flora Temple, has stood for 
the honors of her groomsman. 

" Early Thursday morning we again marched to the Union 
Course, near which a spot was selected for our camp, the 
'shelter tents' having arrived by the Brooklyn and Jamaica Rail- 
road, ( which passes within a few feet of the camp ) each 
company received theirs, and soon the ground assumed a military 
appearance. The tents are made of five pieces of common white 
drilling and are just large enough for five ( the number of persons 


designated to a tent) to crawl around in, each, on a march, 
having to carry a piece." 

" On December 3d the regiment left New York City for 
' Union Race Course,' Jamaica, Long Island. We went via 
Williamsburg, marching about seven miles. The night was cold 
and rainy, and having no tents we were marched to Hiram Wood- 
ruff's hotel and were lodged in open horse sheds, being furnished 
with a good supply of straw by the landlord. Many of the boys 
desirous of availing themselves of a good wash, after their vain 
endeavors to sleep in the cold sheds, repaired to the pump in 
the back yard and were making good use of a large wooden 
bowl near at hand for a wash basin, when suddenly the good 
landlady came rushing out of the house and begged of them to 
stop using her 'butter bowl ' for a 'wash dish.' " 

" On account of various articles, such as maggoty kidneys, 
mice, turnip candlesticks, etc., being found in the soup furnished 
the regiment by a Dutch cook, employed by the government 
contractors, the whole regiment was detailed to get the rations 
Saturday noon. They marched to the establishment and a com- 
mittee consisting of three sergeants from each company entered 
and examined the premises and the food about to be delivered, 
reporting it unfit, upon which a sally was made by the Fifty-third 
Regiment, and everything, soup, beef, hams, sugar, cheeses, 
bread, butter, tea, coffee, etc., completely 'cleaned out.' Portions 
of other regiments, Forty-seventh, Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Massa- 
chusetts, and Twenty-fifth New York Battery, all of which are 
quartered near the buildings, were soon there and had it not been 
for the hospital in the upper part, the binding would have been 

"Corporal Howe, of Company I, accidentally shot himself 
with his own pistol while walking in the street, the ball lodging 
in his wrist. He was taken to the city hospital. It shows the 
folly of carrying loaded arms." 

" Yesterday afternoon we had orders to vacate at 3 P. M., the 
tents, which ever since their occupation had been untenable on 


account of the extreme cold, and march to Jamaica some four 
miles distant. We were received by the citizens with expressions 
of sympathy, and all seemed to take an interest in finding us 
good warm quarters and providing the necessaries of life, an 
abundance of which was handed in. Companies A and F are 
quartered in a store on the Main street, and the rest are provided 
for in different parts of the town. All honor to the citizens of 
Jamaica. They may rest assured that their kindness will not be 
forgotten by the Fifty-third Regiment." 


" The men are eager for a change ; almost everything curious, 
attractive or instructive has been visited by them. Squads of 
men, if not whole companies, may be seen every morning march- 
ing in different directions, imbued with a strong sight-seeing 
propensity, which crops out in all the desires of the regiment. 
While they are by such means gratifying the taste, feasting the 
eye and storing the mind with useful knowledge, they are exer- 
cising themselves in the measured tread of the march, breathing 
a free atmosphere and gathering strength for the coming issues." 

" Each day brings its added solicitudes and hopes, rumors 
and fears. To-day we are told that the propeller ' Continental ' 
has been assigned to us as the vessel which is to transport us 

" The friends at home, as well as ourselves, have cause for 
congratulation that so fine a ship has been given us. Her ac- 
commodations, means for ventilation and all the requisites which 
tend toward the comfort of all who are to take passage in her, are 
better even, than were the ' Mississippi.' Though we have lost 
much time by our disembarkation, we have certainly gained a 
great feature in our prospects while subject to a sea life. The 
quartermaster is busy in his preparations for a shipment of our 
stores, and we anticipate an early order to embark. The sooner 
it comes the better it will please all concerned. Our sick are 
rapidly improving, but neither of the surgeons can say to the 


other, ' Your occupation is gone.' Colds and coughs are the 
common inheritance of all, and a general dosing for such inflic- 
tions is required. The ' mump section ' is being reduced by 
constant discharges, and the remainder are full of spirit, cheeky 
and determined. The sore throat affections are disappearing. 
We have one case of diphtheria only." 

The following shows the absurd gossip which prevailed 
in camp : 

" Yesterday it was reported that the Fifty-third would proba- 
bly return in a few days to Camp Stevens, as the government had 
more troops at its disposal in Washington than they knew what 
to do with. Also that the Rebels had expressed a desire to 
cease hostilities and lay down their arms for thirty days and 
endeavor to arrange, if possible, a satisfactory settlement. An- 
other report is that the government is unable to furnish transports 
for three months, and that Captain Sawyer was on from Massa- 
chusetts and had said ' there was more than an even chance that 
the regiment would be returned to its old quarters at Groton 
Junction.' But like hundreds of other 'camp reports' these 
proved to be idle talk, for the next day the report was circulated, 
purporting to come from the quartermaster, that the regiment was 
to be furnished with forty days' rations, and that several trans- 
ports were waiting in the harbor to receive troops, which report 
proves to be the nearest correct." 

The following is an extract from a letter dated Decem- 
ber 29, 1862 : 

" Had we taken no note of time, Christmas would have 
passed by without being perceived by us ; the same routine of 
military exercises, the same rations of beef and bread, the same 
duties, and in fact to all outward appearances there was nothing 
to mark this from other days ; but let us examine more closely 
and we will find that ere we have perceived it our thoughts have 
strolled back into the past, to the times when we sat in the 
family circle and around the family board, and partook of the 


luxuries spread before us ; to loved ones and kind friends, who 
always greeted us with their ' Merry Christmas', and served with 
their kind smiles of good cheer, to make this a day above all 
others to be remembered. Not so now ; the selfishness of men 
has called us to go forth in battle for a just and righteous cause, 
and we gladly forsake all to answer the call of our country. 

" Company E having received a large box containing a full 
supply of the necessaries of life, from their many friends in 
Athol, set a well laden table of eatables in their barracks on 
Christmas afternoon, at which Major Pratt, Quartermaster Brown, 
Adjutant Willis, Chaplain B. F. Whittemore and many friends, 
together with Company E, partook. After justice had been 
done to the eatables, the chaplain was called upon, and in an 
eloquent and touching manner referred to those at home, through 
whose kindness he and his companions had met on so pleasant 
an occasion. Major Pratt, Adjutant Willis and others made re- 
marks, after which the exercises closed by singing ' Marching 
Along ' and ' America.' 

" The members of Company A have formed a debating 
society. Sergeant George A. Bailey was chosen president, H. H. 
Wellington, vice-president, and F. F. Woodward, secretary. They 
held their first meeting Friday evening, at which, after a declama- 
tion by F. F. Woodward, the effect of the ' President's Procla- 
mation upon the Restoration of the Union ' was freely discussed." 

The friends of the regiment in Massachusetts were 
very solicitous for the welfare of the men, and the occa- 
sion above alluded to was only one of several that were 
brought about through their contributions. From such 
friends the same company, on New Year's day, enjoyed a 
bountiful dinner at the National Hotel, provided by the 
people of Royalston. Several officers of the regiment 
were invited and after the repast was finished a number of 
speeches were made by the different officers and some 
members of Company E. 


Companies A and B also received a bountiful New 
Year's dinner of roast turkeys, plum puddings, etc., from 
the "Ladies Soldiers Aid Society," of Fitchburg, to which 
complete justice was done and their grateful thanks re- 
turned by letters from Captains Miles and Corey. 

To round out the festivities of New Year's day Com- 
pany B accepted an invitation from Mrs. Thomas Reed, 
of Brooklyn, who had formerly visited in Fitchburg, to 
visit her home, and late in the afternoon a large portion of 
the company, under command of Lieutenant Battles, 
marched to her residence and enjoyed her hospitality. A 
number of guests had been invited to meet them and the 
evening was very pleasantly spent in music and song, 
Company B quartette and some of the lady's friends ren- 
dering various selections. A bountiful collation was 
provided and the company returned with high appreciation 
of the attention shown them. 

The men of different companies got up a great many 
entertainments of their own, but on the 29th of December 
they were able to enjoy a special treat through the efforts 
of Newton Pratt, Esq., of Chicago, (who was visiting 
acquaintances in the regiment,) and the chaplain, who 
perfected arrangements for a concert in the barracks. 
Mrs. Mozart, Mrs. Kempton and Mr. Colby were the 
"professionals" who volunteered their services for the oc- 
casion. The ladies rendered several songs and Mr. 
Colby accompanied them upon one of Steinway & Sons 
grand pianos, which had been brought into the barracks 
for the purpose. Their efforts met with the heartiest ap- 
preciation of the men, and it is believed that the musicians 


as well as Mr. Pratt, felt amply repaid for the trouble and 
expense which it involved. Mr. Pratt was formerly from 
Fitchburg, and the ladies and Mr. Colby were also from 

Some of the people of New York and Brooklyn, also 
remembered the regiment in various ways, not only with 
gifts of luxuries but with substantial literary matter. Rev. 
Win. C. Van Meter, of the Howard Mission, presented 
some four hundred pamphlets and literary journals, and 
other very readable papers. The New York Bible So- 
ciety, American Tract Society, the Rose Hill Ladies 
Relief Association, the Central M. E. Church and the 
Sanitary Commission and others sent in their contribu- 
tions. Mrs. Esther S. Leaverett, of West Eighteenth 
street, gave $50 worth of books to the regiment, the New 
York Bible and Tract Society contributed a large stock of 
Bibles and singing books. Various meetings of religious 
nature were held at the barracks, which were addressed 
by committees from some of these Societies upon invitation 
of the chaplain. 

On the nth of January the regiment attended church 
for the last time in the city : the chaplain preached from 
the text, "I pray thee have me excused." 

On the 17th of January the regiment embarked on the 
steamer Continental, which was to sail under sealed or- 
ders, and although this regiment was supposed to be a 
part of "Banks' Expedition," so much time had been lost 
by the delay in New York, on account of the great 
amount of sickness in the regiment, that it was by no 
means certain that our destination was with the remainder 
of the "expedition." 


As near as can be determined now (in the absence of 
"morning reports" which cannot be found) we sailed with 
about 925 officers and men. The last convalescent to ap- 
pear on the 1 6th was John Kemp of Company B, who had 
been at his home in Fitchburg three months on account of 
a terrible scalding of his foot at Camp Stevens, by the 
upsetting of a large kettle of tea. As he came hobbling 
in, his foot still encased in a moccasin, the boys warmly 
greeted him. He was at that time fifty years of age and 
might well have remained at home after his accident, but 
his pluck was good and hearing that the regiment was 
about to sail he took the night train on the 15th and 
arrived in season to go on board with the rest of the boys. 
Two of our officers, Captain Miles of Company A and 
Captain Clough of Company D, resigned just before we 
sailed, very much to the regret of all. Captain Clough 
resigned on account of his health, which was very poor, 
and Captain Miles on account of the severe sickness of his 
business partner, which seemed to necessitate his return 
to look after the large business they were engaged in. 
He came on board the steamer to spend the last evening 
before we sailed, and to bid us all farewell. He put upon 
board ship, seventy-five dollars' worth of stores for his 
company's use during the voyage, and placed in the com- 
pany officers' hands one hundred and forty-five dollars in 
cash to be used for the comfort of the men when- 
ever required, thus testifying to substantial interest in their 
welfare. His resignation was a matter of universal regret 
in the regiment. 


Sailing <>f the Continental — Journal of the Voyage — Storm— Death 
and Burial at Sea — Arrival and Stop at Key West — Arrival at 
New Orleans — Debarkation at Carrollton— Camp Mansfield. 

We sailed on the 18th of January, our regiment com- 
posing the principal cargo, but there were ninety-three 
men of the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, and 161 of 
the Fortieth New York Regiment, some officers of other 
commands, and a few prisoners (deserters), about to re- 
turn to their regiments. The men were stowed awa}' very 
closely in bunks, occupying nearly all the space between 
decks, and the officers had the cabin. Colonel Kimball 
was in command of all on board. When fairly at sea 
the captain opened his sealed orders, and announced to 
Colonel Kimball that our destination was New Orleans. 
The men were not much pleased to hear they were going 
so far south, but we were there to obey orders, and "not to 
reason why." The first two or three days at sea were com- 
paratively pleasant, but afterwards a succession of gales 
prevailed, which lasted the most of the trip ; nearlv all 
were terribly sea-sick and the condition of things after a 
day or two may be better imagined than described. Two 
deaths occurred on the passage, only one of which was in 
our regiment. First Sergeant Marcus Hagar, Company 
I, who died January 2 2d, was a very promising young 
man, twenty-one years of age, from Westminster, and was 


respected and beloved by all who knew him ; his burial in 
the ocean the same day' of his death was a solemn event, 
which left a deep impression upon all who witnessed it. 
It was at sunset, and while most of the men were too sick 
to come on deck, a few comrades of Company I came to 
attend the brief but solemn service. The steamer was 
slowed up, the colors hoisted at half-mast and the body of 
poor Hagar, which had been sewed up in his blanket with 
weights at the feet, was tenderly brought and placed on a 
plank, projecting over the vessel's side. The chaplain 
read the Episcopal form of service for the dead, while the 
little company of officers and privates stood reverently by 
with bowed heads. At the words " we therefore commit his 
body to the deep,'" the plank was lifted, and the corpse 
plunged beneath the waves ; a brief prayer and all was 
over. The vessel resumed its accustomed rate of speed, the 
latitude and longitude were noted, and thus ended a sad 
episode of the voyage. We buried him in latitude 29 20' 
north, longitude 75 30' west, about three hundred miles 
from land. Before we arrived at our destination, this sol- 
emn ceremony was repeated, the death of a soldier of 
the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment having .occurred Jan- 
uary 24th. His name was Zacheus Macomber, of Norton, 
Mass. The second day out from New York, an officer on 
the ship brought to Colonel Kimball a "stowaway," whom 
the guard had found hidden in the cargo. He stood before 
the colonel an unabashed specimen of the New York 
street gamin, with his mouth stretched from ear to ear in a 
grin of self complacency, and with a " what are you going 


to do about it" air. The colonel soon recognized him as 
a hoy, who had come off in the boat with him the night 
before, representing himself as the servant of Captain 
Corey, but the captain disowned him, and the boy was 
forced to admit, that he played his game to get aboard, 
and to get a chance to see something of the war. The 
colonel plied him with questions, sized him up generally, 
and concluded he had rather a unique character to deal 
with. His name was Johnny Conlin, and age about four- 
teen; he insisted that he could make himself useful if we 
would take him along. The colonel said "Johnny, are 
you honest ?" "Colonel, I can be" was the answer. He 
was finally taken into the headquarters family, and soon 
made friends with all. We may have occasion to allude 
to him again in the course of this narrative. 

The following are extracts from the writer's private 
journal, kept while on board the ship Continental. "We 
left New York this morning at 7 o'clock, with bright sun, 
smooth sea and fair wind ; making about ten miles per hour 
thus far. Weather still fine, sea quite smooth. This even- 
ing we had a fine sing amongst the officers in the cabin, 
after which the chaplain read the Scriptures, and offered 
prayer, when the exercises closed with singing Old Hun- 
dred. The accompaniment being furnished by Colonel 
Barrett, on a " melodeon," kindly loaned to the field-and- 
staff by a sister of Colonel Kimball. 

Monday evening, January 19th ; arrived at Fortress 
Monroe, at about 10 o'clock this A. M., and left at noon ; 
very pleasant, though cold for this latitude. We encoun- 


tered a very rough sea soon after leaving port, and the 
consequence is that a great many are sick ; at the supper 
table only about half of our mess, which numbers some 
fifty officers, were present. Much merriment was had 
upon deck during the afternoon by those who were well, at 
the expense of the sick ones, but towards night, it was ob- 
served that nearly all were quite subdued, and were ready 
to retire at an early hour. January 20th : this morning 
opened with a severe gale from the south-west, and the 
propeller being of narrow build and with light cargo, rolls 
terribly. The weather has been squally all day and to- 
night it rains heavily. Nearly all on board are very 
sea-sick, and the table in the cabin quite deserted. 

It was indeed a fearful night; the men crowded into 
the cabin, laying themselves about the floor, as closely as 
they could be stowed, and no one could have the heart to 
drive them out. The scene in the cabin could not be de- 
scribed ; the ship rolls from side to side in such manner 
that one could pass from one point to another only by 
grasping hold of everything available. The movable fur- 
niture of the cabin was thrown about and broken, stove 
pipe thrown down, men reeling about indiscriminately, 
and those in the berths keeping their positions with diffi- 
culty ; between decks a still worse condition of things ex- 
isted, many of the bunks breaking down from the unusual 
strain upon them. The men could not sleep, but were 
generally calm, though some showed much fear. 

Wednesday morning; daylight was indeed welcome, 
though still no abatement of the gale; officers are nearly 


all prostrate, and but two only could be found fit for duty. 
Towards night however the sea is less heavy, but the 
night promises to be similar to the last. 

Thursday morning ; day dawns again, and the gale is 
dying away. We have been carried hundreds of miles 
out to sea, and at noon to-day the captain reports us sixty 
hours from Key West, which we had expected to reach to- 
day. The day has brought to us that saddest of all events, 
a death and burial at sea. Marcus Hagar, first ser- 
geant of Company I, died this morning after an illness of 
twenty-four hours, probably of heart disease, and was 
buried in the sea at sunset. During this day, Private J. 
R. Pierce of Company E, who had not been sick, at the 
request of the surgeon made a mild broth sufficient for the 
whole regiment, which the men partook of freely and it 
seemed to do them much good. 

Friday morning; beautiful day, warm at noon, and the 
sea perfectly calm. We came in sight of land at 8 o'clock 
and at noon passed around Great Abaco Island, one of the 
Bahamas, so near that we could discern the verdure upon 
it ; it is the first land we have seen since Monday after- 
noon. The men are as gay as larks and it makes one 
happy to see and hear them. They seem to have forgot- 
ten all their hardships, and they certainly have been very 
patient under them. We have had the men on deck to- 
day, sick and well, the ship undergoing a thorough 
cleansing, which it very much needed. We look back 
over the past few days, and forget all our troubles save the 
loss of our comrade. Saturday evening; this has been a 


beautiful day, very warm and summer-like ; land has been 
visible most of the day, being islands about the coast of 
Florida. We passed through a portion of the blockading 
fleet, and was boarded by them ; we gave them a supply of 
papers and passed on, and soon came in sight of the 
wrecked " Marion Sanford," which took out troops. A 
member of the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, died to- 
day and was buried in the ocean this evening. We ex- 
pect to reach Key West to-night and stop a day for coal- 
ing. The men are in high glee with the prospect of walk- 
ing on shore. This is a very warm evening and we have 
had a fine sing on deck. 

Sunday evening, January 25th, 1863 ; we arrived at 
Key West last night about 12 o'clock, and at 8 A. M. to- 
day were moored to the wharf and the men were allowed 
to go on shore in squads, under a commissioned officer. It 
was a most beautiful day, as warm as July in Massachu- 
setts, and the joy of all, at once more being on land, 
knew no bounds. The walk up into the town was indeed 
a pleasant sensation, the bells were ringing for church and 
the streets looked quite lively, the groves of cocoanut trees, 
gardens filled with orange, lemon and banana trees and 
many beautiful flowers, birds singing gaily, and abun- 
dance of tropical fruit and the indulgence in it. were all 
most agreeable after eight days on shipboard. Nearly, if 
not quite all the troops had a chance to go on shore for an 
hour or two, and it has done them much good. Many 
novel sights were witnessed but perhaps none created 
more merriment than the spectacle of one of our passen- 
gers (a chaplain of a Maine regiment), by his eccentric 


performances about the streets, mounted upon the back of 
a very " cheap looking donkey." It was generally con- 
ceded, however, that he was fitly mounted. We found 
Key West a town of about 2,500 population, of which 900 
are blacks, who are now all made free by the Emancipa- 
tion Proclamation of the president. The day was mostly 
spent in looking about the town and in the evening a few 
of us officers started out to attend church ; curiosity in- 
duced us to wend our way to the negro church. We en- 
tered and took seats quite in the rear of the audience, and 
were soon surprised by seeing Stephen Henry, a colored 
servant of our Captain Washburn, walk up the main aisle 
of the church, enter the pulpit and take full charge of the 
services. He preached an excellent discourse, (extem- 
poraneous,) from the text " Cast thy burden on the Lord." 
No one in the regiment knew that he ever preached or 
spoke in public, not even the captain, who had employed 
him. There was a crowded audience and after Stephen's 
discourse, our chaplain addressed the meeting in a vigor- 
ous manner, and they were soon worked up to the highest 
degree of enthusiasm ; some ludicrous scenes occurred, as 
are quite common in their religious meetings. They 
seemed perfectly carried away with the chaplain's remarks 
and came out into the aisles to grasp him by the hand, 
and amid their ejaculations and gesticulations he seemed 
in immediate danger of being overwhelmed by the "Black 
Sea" that surged around him. The blacks are to have a 
glorification here on next Thursday, on account of the 
Emancipation Proclamation. They intend to start a 


school for the children ; we understand they now go and 
come as they please and work at day wages, and are get- 
ting on very well. 

Returning from the church, it being yet quite early in 
the evening, we were attracted to a residence by a large 
United States flag displayed in the front yard. It was the 
only one we had seen visible at a private residence in the 
town, and we were induced to enter. The gentleman of 
the house came to the door and gave us a hearty greeting, 
asking us to come in. We found that the gentleman (Mr. 
Curtis) was one of the few thoroughly loyal citizens of the 
town. He had been somewhat persecuted by his " se- 
cesh " neighbors, and when he found that some of our 
number were singers, he was very anxious that some pa- 
triotic songs should be rendered for the benefit of his 
neighbors, it being a warm evening, and the windows 
and doors all open. The " Star Spangled Banner " and 
other songs of like character were given with a will, in 
which the family joined, and our host thought that we had 
given them enough "to set them swearing pretty well.'* 
The rest of the evening was spent in conversation very 
pleasantly. They insisted upon our partaking of refresh- 
ments, after which we left with fullest expressions of good 
wishes on their part for our welfare, and with a mutual 
hope that we might meet again after the war was over. 
Over eight hundred letters were mailed here by the regi- 

Monday evening, January 26th ; we sailed from Key 
West at 7 o'clock this morning, weather being very fine ; 


all are in excellent spirits and seem to be generally im- 
pressed with our visit on shore. The day has been so 
warm that we were very comfortable on deck with coats 
off. We passed Tortugas Island and Fort Jefferson, 
which is the last land we shall see until we reach the 
mouth of the Mississippi river. The evening has been 
very tine, with a smooth sea, a clear sky, and a good 
moon ; there are no indications of a storm and the pros- 
pect is, that we shall have a smooth passage for the re- 
mainder of the voyage, and if the "Alabama" does not 
overhaul us, before to-morrow night, we shall probably 
reach New Orleans, Wednesday morning ; we have now 
been on board ship ten days, and begin to long to get es- 
tablished again on "terra firma." Some of the men are 
sick to-day from the effects of partaking too freely of fruits 
on shore. 

Tuesday morning, January 27th ; this morning opened 
very fine, but a rainbow in the sky gave warning that foul 
weather might be expected. With a clear sky and warm 
sun, we steam along, until about one o'clock, when a 
squall suddenly arose and before the canvas could be got 
in, it had burst upon us and carried away "our main 
spencer gaff." The squall developed into a regular north- 
erly gale, and in the course of two hours our ship was 
rocked as vigorously as ever she was in the previous gale. 
With the wind dead ahead, a tremendous sea, and the ship 
hardly able to make any headway, the prospect for the 
night looked gloomy enough. About 5 o'clock it became 
necessarv to stop the engine, and for fifteen minutes we 


were at the mercy of the wind and waves, drifting in the 
trough of the sea. The ship rolls so much that the 'boats 
hung at the davits dip, and men are thrown about without 
mercy. Fortunately the machinery soon starts and we are 
in a better condition, but we are 200 miles from the main 
land and can only make but about three knots per hour. 
Nearly all the officers retired soon after dark, being sea- 
sick, but the night proves to be a fearful one and sleep 
almost out of the question. Wednesday, January 28th ; no 
abatement in the gale this morning ; there was a hail 
storm early in the forenoon. The ship still rolls heavily and 
most of the men and officers remain in their bunks. The 
condition of things between decks is sickening in the ex- 
treme, for the weather is so heavy that no cleaning can 
be accomplished, and the air is terrible, as the gale pre- 
vents the use of wind sails. In the afternoon the gale sub- 
sides and the sea grows smoother, so that by midnight the 
ship moves on at ten knots per hour, without the uncom- 
fortable motion of the last two days, and a good night's 
rest is in store for all. To-day the ration of fresh water 
was reduced from a quart to a pint to each man per day, 
as the supply is getting short and we may be several days 
out yet. 

Thursday, January 29th ; morning opened very fine, and 
we find ourselves nearing the mouth of the Mississippi, the 
point we have so longed for in the last two days. Our 
signal lor a pilot is raised, and soon one comes alongside 
and we move on. We soon pass the ship Constellation, 
laden with the Forty-seventh Massachusetts ; we give them 


some rousing cheers, which they return with a will; 
also the ship Onward with the Twenty-first Maine, which 
we saluted in a like manner, and soon the Montebello, 
upon which our own Lieutenant Priest is detailed. We 
shout his name and he ascends the rigging, and receives 
the cheers of his regiment. At about noon we arrive at 
the head of the passes and are now fairly in the river. 
The men draw up the muddy water and declare that it is 
better than that which we brought from New York. The 
shores on either side present no object of special interest, 
being low and marshy, with nothing inviting about them. 
We steam along rather slowly during the afternoon, and 
about 5 o'clock the flags of Fort Jackson and Fort St. 
Philip, opposite each other on either side of the river, are 
visible. We are soon nearing them and a gun from Fort 
Jackson brings us to, and a boat comes off with an officer 
to take our report. This is the scene of Butler's and Far- 
ragut's exploits, and the key to New Orleans. The walls 
of the fort with the furrowed breastworks, show unmis- 
takable signs of the precision of the tiring, and yet it 
seems that so strong a position should have held out 
longer than it did. The fight between the fleets took 
place a little above the forts. The half sunken hull of the 
" Verona," the federal gun-boat, which fought so gallantly 
until the last, firing her last gun just as her deck sunk be- 
low the waters, lies near the shore partly visible, while a 
little farther up, the remains of the rebel steamer, Gov- 
ernor Moore, her antagonist, are seen, not much being left 
except the side wheels, smoke stack and frame work. The 


taking of New Orleans seems more brilliant as one visits 
the scene of the struggle and views the obstacles which 
stood in the way of it. 

Soon we arrive at quarantine and are again boarded 
by a health officer, who inspects us and allows us to pro- 
ceed. By his report we find that with all our troubles, we 
have yet been fortunate, for the Empire City which left 
Fortress Monroe at the same time we did, and passed 
up yesterday, had one hundred cases of ship fever taken 
from her. Night comes on and the peeping of frogs all 
along the shore reminds us that there is no winter here. 
The shores are becoming more interesting, as we are 
passing large orange groves and soon will be in the sugar- 
cane region. We are about fifty miles from New Orleans 
and shall probably reach it by midnight. Officers and 
men are all busy writing letters and histories of their ad- 
ventures to mail in the morning. 

January 30th ; we are lying at anchor opposite the city 
of New Orleans. By request of the officers of the regi- 
ment, the purser of the steamer prepared for the officers 
an extra breakfast this morning, at the close of which 
some resolutions, prepared by Captain Ashley were read, 
which embodied the sentiments of all, respecting the un- 
tiring and sleepless vigilance of the captain of the 
steamer and the efficiency of his subordinates ; a copy of 
which resolutions was presented to Captain Marshman. 
In the afternoon we steamed up the river some six miles, 
to Carrollton, a suburb of the city, and the next morning 
disembarked and went into camp a short distance from 


the landing, reporting to Gen. W. H. Emory. This camp 
was designated Camp Mansfield, and the regiment having 
been furnished with an abundance of canvas soon made 
itself very comfortable. 

We arrived at New Orleans with only about a dozen 
cases of sickness and none serious, which was quite re- 
markable under the circumstances. An incident of the 
first night on shore is now recalled. Late in the evening, 
after the men had turned in, word came from Captain 
Marshman of the Continental, that his ship had sprung a 
leak and was sinking in the river, and calling for a detail 
of men to work his pumps. This was immediately fur- 
nished, and the men started off with a will to do what they 
could for the noble ship, which had brought us safely 
through the stormy passage, while some of us indulged in 
reflections upon what the result might have been if the de- 
fect had occurred while we were beating about in the Gulf. 
The ship was kept afloat and the captain was very grate- 
ful for the prompt and efficient service rendered. 


Camp Life at Carrollton — Orders — Sketches of Officers— Sickness — 
Hospitals — Quelling a Mutiny — Orders For a Move. 

" Life in the field " now commenced in earnest. Arms 
were issued to the men, the regular camp routine and 
duties established, and appearances indicated that we 
might remain at this point for some days and perhaps 

Our first day on shore is Sunday, and services are 
held in the open air, in front of the colonel's quarters, 
the chaplain preaching a sermon, and singing being fur- 
nished by members of the regiment. Our camp is located 
on the " Shell-road " just in the edge of the village, and 
several other regiments are encamped near by. During 
the day four funerals have passed by our camp, — sad re- 
minders that death is already reaping his harvest from the 
ranks of the soldiers who are fast falling from the diseases 
incident to this unhealthy climate. The following orders 
were now issued for the government of the regiment : 

Headquarters Fifty-third Regt. Mass. Vols. 

Camp Mansfield, La., Feb. i, 1863. 
General Order. 

The following list of calls is hereby ordered for the govern- 
ment of the regiment, until further orders. They must be strictly 
conformed to. 

Reveille, 6.30 A. M. ; breakfast, 7.00; surgeon's call, 7.30; 
company police, 7.35; general police, 8.00 ; first sergeant's call, 


8.30; first call for chess parade, 8.50; dress parade, 9.00 : first call 
for battalion drill, 10.00; battalion drill, 10.15 ; recall, 1 1 .45 ; adju- 
tant's call, 12 M.; dinner, 12.30 P. M. ; first call for company 
drill, 1.45 ; company drill, 2.00; recall, 3.00; first call for guard 
mounting, 3.20; guard mounting, 3.30; retreat, 5.30; supper, 
Coo ; tattoo, 8.00 ; taps, 9.00. 

Three roll calls daily: First, immediately after reveille; 
second, immediately after retreat ; third, immediately after tattoo. 

All absentees from roll call without authority will be reported 
to headquarters immediately. 

By command of 

J. W. Kimball, 

Colonel Commanding. 
H. A. Willis, Adjutant. 

Headquarters Fifty-third Regt. Mass. Vols. 

Camp Mansfield, Feb. 5, 1863. 

Regimental Special Order No. 31. 

Commanders of companies will at once divide their com- 
mands into squads, in number equal to the number of their 
corporals, who shall have full charge of them and the tents which 
they occupy, and who shall be responsible to the second, third, 
fourth and fifth sergeants for the conduct of their men, and the 
performance of their duties, the condition of their arms and 
equipments, the neatness of their person and dress, and the 
policing of their quarters. The sergeants shall in turn be respon- 
sible to the first sergeant, and for the conduct and performance 
of duties by the corporals and all men under them. The first 
sergeant shall in like manner be responsible to the commanding 
officer of the company, for the conduct and performance of their 
duties by the sergeants and all under them. The authority of 
the non-commissioned officers must be recognized by all under 
them, and they must in turn understand that they have such 
authority and responsibility, and will be held wholly accountable. 


The men must understand that disobedience of the orders of the 
non-commissioned officers over them will not be sanctioned or 
countenanced in the least degree. The attention of commanders 
of companies is called to article 13th, army regulations, and they 
will see that the provisions of this order are carried out. 

By command of 

Colonel John W. Kimball. 
H. A. Willis, Adjutant. 

On the 2d of February came orders to transfer the 
regiment to Baton Rouge. On February 3d the regi- 
ment struck its camp and moved all its equipage to the 
shore to take the steamer up the river, when the order 
was countermanded and the regiment ordered back into 
camp. The only benefit visible from this movement (and 
perhaps its only object) was to ascertain how efficient the 
regiment might prove itself in striking its camp, packing 
up, starting on the march, and getting back and establish- 
ing its camp again. On the 7th the " Belle Wood " ar- 
rived with the regimental horses, having been nearly five 
weeks on the passage. 

Daily regimental, company and non-commissioned of- 
ficers' drills were now held and also target practice and 
skirmish drill. On the 9th of February the regiment par- 
ticipated in a division drill at the ff Parapet," a point some 
distance up the river, where earthworks had been thrown 
up for defense. 

On the 10th of February the regiment moved to 
" Camp Kearney," a short distance away and nearer the 
river, and just off the line of the New Orleans and Carroll- 
ton railroad. It was here assigned to the Third Brigade, 


Third Division of the Nineteenth Arm}' Corps, the 
brigade being under command of Colonel O. P. Gooding, 
of the Thirty-first Massachusetts, and the division under 
command of General W. H. Emory. Colonel Gooding 
was an " accident " in the place we found him. He had 
been appointed colonel of the Thirty-first Massachusetts, 
by Governor Andrew, contrary to the wishes of those most 
prominent in raising the regiment. He was a second 
lieutenant in the regular army at the time, and regular 
armv officers were at a premium in those days and each 
one supposed to be a " host in himself." But in some 
cases, as in this one, they proved to be only second lieu- 
tenants. When our brigade was made up he commanded 
it by seniority of commission. He was not popular with 
his regiment, nor with the brigade he commanded. He 
was a martinet and punctillious to the last degree concern- 
ing small matters of military ceremony, dress and eti- 
quette. The bottom of a pantaloon leg turned up at "dress 
parade," or anything about a soldier's dress not strictly ac- 
cording to regulations, would exasperate him greatly, and 
the hearing an officer addressing his company as " boys " 
was enough to cause the issue of an order forbidding it. 
A rosette, indicating his rank, upon the undress blouse of 
an officer visiting his headquarters was the occasion of a 
most ungentlemanly attack upon him, with a request to his 
adjutant-general to issue an order requiring " shoulder 
straps " on all occasions. 

He rode upon his horse through the camps with head 
cast down and with a Napoleonic seriousness upon his 


countenance which betokened that he had the fate of 
the nation upon his shoulders, but he was not conspic- 
uous in any engagement for his prominence at the front 
or efficiency in directing his brigade. He had some ex- 
cellent staff officers, who saved him from utter oblivion, 
but he never rose above the rank of colonel. 

General W. H. Emory, who commanded the division, 
was an old soldier. He was born in Maryland in 1811, 
and graduated at West Point in 1831. He was in the 
Mexican war on the staff of General Kearney, where he 
was successively made captain, and brevet major. He 
remained with the army after the war, and was on duty 
upon the plains. He was in Kansas during the troubles 
of 1854 and in Utah in 1858. He resigned May 9th, 1861, 
but was reappointed lieutenant-colonel of the Sixth United 
States Cavalry the same month. He took part in the 
" Peninsular Campaign " having been made brigadier- 
general of volunteers March 17th, 1862. His long service 
had well prepared him for his present position, and he 
was regarded as a veritable " old war horse." He was 
thoroughly loyal and uncompromising, but he was not 
wrapped up in self-conceit, and was not addicted to 
whims or eccentricities of any sort. He was a strict 
disciplinarian, but not an arbitrary stickler in trifling mat- 
ters, and was very ready to commend merit wherever he 
saw it. The officers and men of his division believed in 
him thoroughly and he was exceedingly popular with 


The regiment remained at this point until March 6th, 


engaged in drilling, target practice. and the various duties 
of the camp. The ground upon which "Camp Kearney " 
was located was very flat, and several feet lower than the 
surface of the river flowing between immense levees one- 
quarter of a mile to the west of us, and bearing upon its 
bosom huge steamboats, and other crafts moving up and 
down to all appearance and in fact several feet above our 

The weather in the month of February alternated be- 
tween heavy showers and hot sun, and the ground was 
nothing but a bed of mud from which miasmatic vapors 
exhaled bv day and night. Our men fell sick with start- 
ling rapidity — diarrhoea, dysentery and malarial fever pre- 
vailed extensively, and before the end of the month, we 
had between two and three hundred sick. At one time for 
three days all three of our surgeons were down, and the 
hospital steward was obliged to take charge of the sick in 
camp. Of course the very sick were sent to the hospitals 
in the city — ''Marine,'' "Charity," "St. James," and others. 
These hospitals were well conducted by the United States 
authorities, and men sent there were as a rule very well 
cared for. They were not so far from camp, but that 
they could be visited bv their comrades while we re- 
mained at Camp Kearney, but our departure added to 
their desolation. Life in hospital in a "conquered rebel 
citv " as some of us now well remember, was very differ- 
ent from that we had seen in Washington, and other cities 
along the border. There, the neatly kept wards were 
cheered by the presence of flowers — the care of female 


nurses — the visits of many loyal and sympathizing friends ; 
while here the monotony of the situation is only varied by 
the periodical rounds of the surgeon ; the perfunctory min- 
istrations of the " detailed nurses " and occasionally a visit 
perhaps of the female "colporteurs'' who clad in black with 
attenuated figure — sharp visage and rebellious hearts made 
their vvav through the wards depositing with a sanctimoni- 
ous air the "tract" which might perhaps turn the soul of 
the despised "Yankee" from the error of its ways. No 
words of sympathy from them ; but it did sometimes 
happen that some old " colored mammy" would be per- 
mitted to visit, and as she passed around scattering flowers 
and words of good cheer, the sunshine that radiated from 
her presence was in itself a whole "gospel of peace." 

Thus it will be seen that our ranks were fast being 
depleted. But after March ist, the rains ceased and there 
seemed to be some improvement, but we had lost by death 
alreadv about twenty, and many were becoming per- 
manently disabled. 

A peculiar case occurred about this time. Private 
James A. Raymond of Company H, died at the Carrollton 
hospital of no apparent disease. He had become im- 
pressed that he must die soon, and it so worked upon his 
nervous system that he finally became delirious and died 
in a most pitiable state of insanity. 

Perhaps the most exciting event of our stay here, oc- 
curred one night after all had turned in. The camp was 
quiet, save the tramp of the sentries on guard. An incip- 
ient insurrection had occurred in the One Hundred and 


Seventy-tilth New York Regiment, encamped a short dis- 
tance away. The commanding officer, finding that he 
could not quell it, called upon Colonel Kimball for aid. 
He at once ordered the " long roll " to be beat. It was a 
summons the men had never yet heard, but in less time 
than it takes to tell it, they were in line in the company 
streets, and the regiment made a quick march tor the 
scene of trouble. Suffice it to say, that the mutiny was 
soon quelled without any resort to force, and the regiment 
received the most unqualified approbation of the officers of 
the One Hundred and Seventy-fifth, for their prompt re- 
sponse to the call. 

The Thirty-first Massachusetts Regiment, was also en- 
camped near us, and we most thoroughly enjoyed the 
music from their excellent band. 

The men had come to realize that they were indeed 
soldiers engaged in a most righteous cause, and soon be- 
gan to be impatient of the dull routine of their daily life, 
and to sigh for more active work, and the order to break 
camp on March 6th, caused their hearts to leap with ex- 
pectation. The destination this time proved to be Baton 


Departure for Raton Rouge — Magnolia Grove — Reconnoissance — An 
Onward Move of the Army towards Port Hudson — The Passage 
of the Fleet — Return to Baton Rouge — Departure for Algiers — 
Advance into the Enemy's Country. 

The regiment was embarked on steamer Crescent, 
March 6th, arriving at Baton Rouge the next day, where 
it went into camp about three miles below the city, in a 
beautiful grove of magnolia trees. The country here was 
more broken up and seemed to give new inspiration to the 
boys, reminding them more of their New England homes, 
than the dead level country about New Orleans, and for 
many miles above. 

They proceeded to make themselves comfortable in 
their new camp, and to this end began to take rails from 
the adjacent fences, for use about their tents, as a portion 
of the ground was low and wet. Late in the evening, 
an order almost savage in tone, came down from brigade 
headquarters to Colonel Kimball, forbidding the taking of 
rails and ordering a guard to be detailed to prevent it, and 
to replace those already taken. The guard was detailed, 
but as we had already learned from the negroes that the 
owner of the plantation we were on was an officer in the 
rebel army, an order for special protection to his property, 
which we were in need of for our comfort was very hard 
to obey, and the indignation of officers and men was in- 
tense, though somewhat suppressed. The rails already 


taken were not replaced. This was the only time we 
were ever actually forbidden to take fences for our use. 
there being an order afterwards issued allowing "the top 
rails to be taken." This worked very well, for the fence 
being of the Virginia pattern, the result was that one set 
of men would go along and remove the top rail ; another 
set, perfectly oblivious to that would proceed to take top 
rails, and so on until the only rail left was of course a top 
rail and went the way of all the others. 

On Tuesday, March ioth. orders were received to 
pack everything and be ready to march at an hour's 
notice. On the nth, received orders to make a recon- 
noissance on the Bayou Sara road, which was immedi- 
ately countermanded. In the evening another order was 
received to go aboard steamers the next morning for a 
reconnoissance up the river. March 12th, the regiment 
left camp at 5 A. M., marched to the city and embarked 
on two steamers, the Iberville and St. Maurice, and 
were accompanied by a portion of the Second Regiment 
Rhode Island Cavalry, under Captain Stevens. Under 
convoy of the gunboat Albatross we proceeded up the 
river about six miles, where a landing was effected, at 
a place called "Scott's mills." As we landed, a "long 
haired citizen " was observed acting in a rather suspicious 
manner, and we took him into custody. He proved to be 
the owner of the plantation we were on, named Elder. 
He wished to be let alone, and allowed to go home but we 
held him until our raid was over and then released him. 
We could get no information from him. 


We proceeded cautiously toward the Bayou Sara road 
led by the cavalry, with Company A deployed as " flank- 
ers, " as we marched through the wood. Reachino- 
the Bayou Sara road, the flankers were called in, the 
regiment halted and the cavalry sent ahead to recon- 
noitre. Riding one-quarter of a mile up the road, they 
came upon and exchanged shots with a rebel " picket 
guard " and hastily returned and reported. The long roll 
was heard to beat not far to the front and Colonel Kimball 
at once put the regiment in a position to repel an assault, 
by placing companies D and F on either side of the road, 
forming a V, and posting the remainder of the regiment 
in the rear to support them. The cavalry were sent up the 
road again to tempt them out, but they did not come and 
probably awaited an attack by us, but as our orders were 
not to go beyond this point, we commenced the march to 
the city, driving in a large number of cattle and arriving 
at our camp in the evening, where we found orders await- 
ing us to march with the whole division the next day. 
This proved to be an onward movement of Banks' main 
force. The order of march was as follows : General 
Grover's division of five brigades in the advance ; Gen- 
eral Emory's of three brigades following, with General 
Augur's of four brigades as the reserve, a large number of 
batteries, quite a force of cavalry, with the accompani- 
ments of ammunition, forage and subsistence wagons, 
ambulances and all other necessary appendages. The 
weather was very warm and the roads terribly dustv. 
Our regiment fell into the column at 7 o'clock A. M. and 


proceeded about eight miles over the same road by which 
we had marched into town on the preceding day, to a 
bridge on the Bayou Sara road, where we bivouacked 
tor the night. 

Now it began to look as though the active campaign 
so much longed for was about to commence, and knowing 
from our experience of the day before that we were in 
close proximity to the enemy, it was confidently expected 
by all that there would be an encounter within the next 
twenty-four hours. We were only about twelve miles 
from Port Hudson, and it was known that this strong 
position was held by a large force ; the movement proved 
to be one in co-operation with an attack by the gunboats 
on the river. 

March 14th, we marched at daybreak and proceeded 
about ten miles towards Port Hudson and bivouacked for 
the night on the " Alexander plantation," about three miles 
from the river and town. This was the night of the 
bombardment, and successful passage of a portion of 
Admiral Farragut's fleet past the batteries of Port "Hud- 
son. The men slept upon their arms, expecting that 
morning would call them to join in an attack by the land 
forces on the enemy's works. The fleet had been engaged 
all the afternoon and continued in the evening. We lay 
and watched after dark by the light of the burning fuses 
the course of the shells thrown from the mortars on the 
gunboats as they described their beautiful curves to the 
point of explosion, until suddenly the sky became illumi- 
nated bv a great light : we watched it as it seemed to be 


moving down the river, amid the constant booming of' 
heavy guns, when suddenly there shot forth a blaze yet 
more brilliant, accompanied by a tremendous explosion, 
which shook the earth as by a great convulsion ; and 
darkness reigned and the firing soon ceased. It was only 
too evident that it was a burning vessel, and we were 
filled with gloomy forebodings that our fleet had been de- 
feated and perhaps destroyed, which happily proved 
otherwise later on. 

In the morning an order from General Banks' headquar- 
ters announced that "the object of the expedition had been 
accomplished," a phrase which afterwards became a by- 
word in the division, whenever our movements resulted 
like that of the famous king with 40,000 men, who 
" marched up hill and then marched down again." But 
later we learned that our movement was only a demon- 
stration to aid the fleet to pass the batteries. The whole 
army was again put in motion towards Baton Rouge. 
This division halted and went into camp five miles out of 
the city, in what the boys called " Rattlesnake Swamp," 
they having captured and despatched some of the reptiles 

March 17th the regiment marched with two brigades 
on a reconnoissance up the Clinton road, proceeded five 
miles and bivouacked for the night in a beautiful little 
opening in the woods, with a brook of clear water run- 
ning through it and surrounded with " cornus " trees in full 
bloom. Other beautiful flowers are seen in the woods 
about. One rare sight is the dead trunk of a tree stand- 
ing some thirty feet high upon which the wild " trumpet 


flower" has climbed, and completely enveloped it with 
verdure and its bright scarlet blossoms, as if nature 
would repair and cover up the unsightly ravages of time. 
So will she not also in time restore again the places which 
we are laying waste in prosecuting this cruel and unnatu- 
ral war? 

It was a charming spot, where we would fain have 
lingered, but we were ordered back to " Rattlesnake 
Swamp" the next morning, and again "the object of the 
expedition had been accomplished." We reached camp 
that same evening, March 18th. 

March 19th a detail of 250 men was made from the 
regiment as a working party to cut down trees. 

March 20th, marched with the whole division for 
Baton Rouge, and arrived at our camp in Magnolia Grove 
at 5 P. M. While encamped here an incident occurred 
which caused much merriment among both officers and 

Martin Falan of Company E, was a full-blooded Irish- 
man, aged 35, and a thorough soldier, who was always 
ready for any service and could always be depended upon 
to carry out literally any instructions given to him. One 
dark, rainy night, at a late hour he was on guard duty in 
the adga of the grove, when a mounted officer rode up 
and attempted to cross his beat. He was ordered to halt, 
when he announced himself as Colonel Gooding, the com- 
mander of our brigade, which Martin knew very well be- 
fore, but he had his orders to dismount every mounted 
man and have him give the countersign, before allowing 


him to pass, and this he ordered the colonel to do— threat- 
ening to bore him through as he seemed inclined to pass 
across. No parleying or bluster on the part of the colonel 
could move him, and a more broad minded man than 
Colonel Gooding would have complied and commended 
the man for doing his duty. 

But let Martin tell the story: "I said, 'halt, dismount 
and give the countersign.' He says, r I am Colonel Good- 
ing, commander of the brigade.' I said, 'be jabers I 
don't know you at all at all, but I have got my orders and 
be gorra you can't pass here.' Then he says, 'you damn 
rebel I will have you tied up by your thumbs until you 
do know me.' I said, 'be jabers I have got you just now 
where you can't do that.' 'Call the officer of the guard,' 
says he— 'of course I will, that's my duty,' says I. The 
officer came and he ordered him to put me in the guard 
tent, and put on another man. So I had a good night's 
sleep in the guard tent, and they let me out at guard 
mounting in the morning. But Colonel Gooding didn't 
cross my beat, and be jabers I was not tied up by my 
thumbs either." 

On Monday, the 23d, a painful accident took place. 
It was very rainy and the men were in their shelter tents 
to protect themselves from the storm. Without any warn- 
ing a large dead limb of a tree fell upon the tent, under 
which Timothy Hubbard, of Company H, was sitting with 
three of his comrades. It crushed the tent, struck Mr. 
Hubbard upon the head making a bad fracture of the 
skull. He was carried at once to the chaplain's tent 


where arrangements were made to transfer him to the 
"Asylum Hospital" to have the operation of trepanning 
performed. An ambulance was obtained, the removal 
made and the operation skillfully performed, but he died 
two hours after, never having regained consciousness 
after the blow was received. We buried him in a quiet 
spot near the deaf and dumb asylum. He was a man re- 
spected by all his comrades and his sudden death cast a 
gloom over his company and the regiment as well ; a 
strange fate, coming out here to brave the danger of dis- 
ease and the bullet, and dying a violent death from an ac- 
cident so unlooked for. Surely, in the midst of life we are 
in death, and no one can be certain of safety for a single 


Nothing further of note occurred from this date until 

March 25th, when our camp was moved into the city, in 
the rear of the asylum. The measles had appeared in 
the regiment and some more of the men were sent to the 
hospital, while but very few of the previously sick had re- 

On the first of April the whole division started for 
Algiers, opposite New Orleans, this regiment taking pas- 
sage on steamer Nassau. The month on the whole had 
been quite an active one, and quite satisfactory to all ex- 
cept a few who had not yet " got a chance at the enemy " 
at " close quarters." Some of them, let it be said right 
here, were quite satisfied later on, with one experience ot 
that sort, and immediately developed symptoms of "shell 


Arriving at Algiers, April 2d, the regiment went 
into camp near the river and were quite comfortably 
situated. Only one week was spent here, one of the days 
being Easter Sunday, upon which day religious services 
were held in front of headquarters (the first for some time) 
and were conducted by the chaplain, who preached a 
good sermon from the text, " Look not behind thee."' 
Orders were received to leave knapsacks and all camp 
equipage here. 

From the departure from Baton Rouge until after the 
surrender of Port Hudson, a period of three or four 
months, the regiment had only eight companies, as two, B 
and K, were on detached duty. Some account of their 
separate experience will be given later in the volume. 

On April 9th the regiment left Algiers at 7.30 o'clock 
A. M., by the Grent Western railroad, for Brashear City, 
eighty miles distant. The railroad follows the river for 
twenty-five or thirty miles, then strikes off westward 
through fine plantations for several miles, and then through 
many miles of a dismal swamp. We notice on the route 
thousands of acres of sugar-cane left uncut in the fields of 
last year's crop, as the negroes all ran away when the 
Federals took possession of the country. As we are pass- 
ing through the swamp numerous alligators are seen lying 
on the hummocks and basking in the sun, and some of the 
men began to amuse themselves by shooting them from 
the top of the cars. But soon one of Colonel Gooding's 
aids comes bustling down from brigade headquarters, lo- 
cated somewhere between us and the locomotive, with an 


order forbidding the sport. JY. B. It is inconsistent zvith 
army regulations to allow shooting of alligators from a 
moving train through the enemy s country. 

Our whole division was thus en route; train after train 
thundering along, the cars packed inside, outside, on top, 
from end to end of train, with men, horses, artillery, bag- 
gage and ammunition wagons, and the always suggestive 
ambulances, and it is evident that an expedition through 
the country is on foot. 

Arriving at Brashear City we are transported across 
the river to Berwick by ferry, and go into camp just out- 
side the village. 

The rebels held this point until our advance arrived 
here this morning, but their force was small and they 
discreetly retired without a brush with us. 


Battle of Fort Bisland— March through the Teche Country— New 
Iberia, Vermilionville — Incidents — Opelousas — Congratulatory 
Orders— Official Reports— Death and Burial. 

On April nth the regiment marched at noon with the 
whole division. We moved up the Teche road, pro- 
ceeding very slowly and with frequent halts, arriving at 
Pattersonville, about eight miles distant, at 7 P. M., where 
we bivouacked for the night in the open field. We were 
now in close proximity to the enemy and the orders 
were to sleep upon our arms to be ready for any emer- 
gency. The night was quiet and the morning broke clear 
and pleasant. The season had become well advanced, 
the weather warm, vegetation luxuriant, and abundance of 
flowers bloomed in the gardens on our route. All seemed 
calm and peaceful, but who could tell how soon the whole 
scene might change to one of turmoil and carnage. At 
noon the march was again resumed : the column moved 
forward about two miles, now moving by plantation roads 
across the fields. After going about two miles the ad- 
vance encountered the enemy's pickets. A brisk skirmish 
followed, with a few casualties, when the enemy being 
pushed back, the line of march was again resumed and 
continued for about two miles, when a sharp fire was 
opened from the batteries of the enemy, which were 
posted behind a formidable line of earthwork. A vigorous 


artillery battle ensued, which lasted until dark. The regi- 
ment though under fire suffered no casualties. This was 
the first experience of the regiment under fire. All the 
afternoon we had been making our way along with the 
sharp crack of the skirmishers' rifles in our immediate 
front, and the heavier reports of the batteries which were 
"feeling the woods" in our advance; these with the lurid 
flame and heavy smoke from the burning buildings, which 
the fleeing rebels had in their flight set on fire, or which 
our shells had ignited, whenever they interfered with the 
range of our guns, rendered the march a very exciting- 

This was all a new experience, not unexpected, but 
highly suggestive of what might be looked for on the 
morrow. The men laid down in line of battle, expecting 
the early dawn would summon them to the conflict. At 
daylight next morning firing is again opened upon us 
from the batteries of the enemy, and there is good reason 
to expect hot work before the day closes. After remain- 
ing in support of a battery a short time, we are ordered to 
cross the bayou to join in an attack upon the other side. 
We crossed on a pontoon bridge built by our Company K, 
the pioneer company of the army corps, which was posted 
near it during the battle. We soon reach the front, and 
are ordered to lie down in line of battle as a reserve. 
Several hours were spent here, with nothing to be done 
but to listen to the screaming of the shells as they passed 
over our heads and the rattle of the musketry in front. 

At last, at 3 P. M., we were ordered "Forward to re- 
lieve the Thirty-eighth Massachusetts Regiment," which 


had previously relieved the Thirty-first Massachusetts, 
"and to move in skirmish line directly upon the works." 

We were thus engaged under a heavy fire of musketry 
and shell for five hours, (until darkness prevented further 
operations,) gradually advancing to within one hundred 
and twenty-five yards of the enemy's works, which point 
we held through the night, being in advance of any other 
regiment. During the night there were unmistakable 
signs of evacuation by the enemy and Colonel Kimball 
gave notice of the same at division and corps headquarters, 
but no orders were sent him. In the moraine:, iust at 
daylight, he caused Captain Stratton and ten men to move 
forward to draw the fire of the enemy, if still there, but no 
evidence of the same appearing, the whole regiment was 
at once moved forward into the works. "Fort Bisland" 
was ours and the flag of the Fifty-third the first to be 
planted upon the ramparts : notice of the same was imme- 
diately sent to brigade headquarters. The commanding 
officer there had just then received from General Emory 
an order to request Colonel Kimball to "Feel of the 
enemy, if still there." But he was able to return the 
answer, that the Fifty-third had already taken possession. 
Our loss had been small, but among them was one of our 
bravest officers, Lieutenant Nutting, who was shot dead 
while gallantly leading on his men. Colonel Kimball's 
official report of the battle will be given later on. 

An officer of the Thirty-eighth Massachusetts Regi- 
ment in writing an account of this battle says : 

"The Fifty-third Massachusetts nine months' men came under 
fire to relieve the Thirty-eighth, and for a regiment that had not 


been in service but a short time and had only had guns in their 
possession six weeks, moved up in a solid line of battle which 
would cause envy of the veteran troops, pushing up close to the 
enemy's works, and holding their position through that long, 
dreary night, and planting their flag on the earthworks next 

Lieutenant George G. Nutting was a native of Green- 
field and was born July 16, 1826, but had lived in Fitch- 
burg for some years before the war. He was an old 
militia soldier and held a commission in the Fitchburg 
Fusiliers previous to going into the service. When the 
call came in 1863 for volunteers for nine months he was 
one of the first to respond and use his efforts to induce 
others to go. He entered the service as first lieutenant of 
Company A. He proved an efficient officer and most 
thorough disciplinarian. He was very popular with his 
men for whose comfort he was ever solicitous. He was 
cool, determined and fearless in battle, with only the 
thought to do his whole duty. He had been in com- 
mand of his company since leaving New York, as Captain 
Miles resigned just before the regiment sailed. He would 
have been its captain had we been permitted to hold elec- 
tions when we first arrived in the department. He died 
universally mourned by the regiment and by hosts of 
friends at home. He was unmarried but left a mother, 
and a brother who was also in the service. 

Early in the morning of the 14th the whole force was 
put in motion in pursuit of the retreating foe. The Fifty- 
third was ordered to reconnoitre the left bank of the 
"Teche" to Franklin, distant ten miles, while the rest of 


the army moved up on the other side of the bayou. With 
an escort of a few cavalrymen it proceeded cautiously 
along the country, across the fields by plantation roads, 
and reached Franklin about dark and joined the main 
body, again driving in about a hundred head of beef cattle, 
mules and horses. 

On the 15th the regiment marched at 6 A. M., crossed 
the bayou and proceeded along the Teche road. We 
marched about sixteen miles and bivouacked for the night 
in the open field on high land. It was a singularly 
beautiful country we were marching through, the "Teche 
country," so called, the land broken like our own New 
England, and simply a succession of plantations under a 
high state of cultivation and teeming with cattle and live 
stock of every kind. It had not yet been much traversed 
by the army, and our boys had rare opportunity to gather 
in with their own hands, or receive from the friendly 
negroes, who swarmed out from every plantation, a good 
supply of poultry, eggs, pigs, honey and potatoes, for 
their evening and morning meals. The male whites had 
mostly fled along with Dick Taylor's army, which we had 
driven from the fortifications at Bisland, and which was 
fleeing before us in a state of utter demoralization. 

On April 16th the regiment marched at 6.30 A. M., 
and reached New Iberia without incident of importance 
at 4 P. M., having travelled about fifteen miles. A de- 
tachment of the division was sent out to destroy the salt 
works near the village, which was effectually accom- 
plished, thus cutting off the chief supply of salt for the 


whole confederacy. Near this village we passed the 
scene of a cavalry skirmish of our advance the day before, 
the nnbnried bodies of men and horses still lying where 
they fell. Rations of fresh beef were issued to the regi- 
ment this evening, a rarity much appreciated. 

As we were settling down for our night's rest word 
was passed about that news had come through the lines 
•that Charleston, S. C, had been retaken by the Union 
forces. The news was almost too good to be true (and 
afterwards proved not to be), but it was enough to rouse 
the enthusiasm of everybody about headquarters, and we 
soon had going an elaborate illumination, made up of a 
framework of poles mounted with all the tallow candles 
that could be spared from our meagre commissary stores. 

The army in its march had accumulated a motley 
array of camp followers, (blacks, of course) — "contra- 
bands" they were generally called in those days. They 
had left the different plantations we had passed, bringing 
with them such provisions and utensils as they might, and 
were only too ready to go with us, and, perhaps against 
the rules of strict military discipline, were taken into the 
service of officers and enlisted men to carry their luggage. 
Many of them were well mounted on horses, mules and 
ponies, which they had not hesitated to appropriate to 
themselves and to the benefit of their new found friends. 

Our "New r York Johnny'' had in the last few days 
found ample opportunities for the exercise of his peculiar 
proclivities. He had, very soon after our arrival in the 
country, supplied himself with a mule, (with no questions 


asked as to how,) and our chaplain had been well mounted 
tor some time on a large white horse, which it was 
suspected was the product of one of Johnny's excursions. 
Now at the halt this evening comes an order from head- 
quarters that all live stock, not actually the property of 
officers, must be turned into a "corral" designated for the 
purpose. A guard was sent out to carry out this order and 
the result was that Johnny and his mule were "scooped 
in". But he was equal to the emergency. Early in the 
evening he appeared at headquarters and slyly called 
Colonel Kimball to come out a little wav, as he had o-ot 
something to show him. Taking him to where our 
horses were parked he pointed to a very well built, fawn 
colored pony, of about six hundred pounds weight, with a 
coarse black saddle upon him, so large with its housing, 
as to almost completely envelop him. "That's for you, 
colonel," he says. "But where did you get him, and 
where is your mule?" says the colonel. "Oh, you see 
they turned us fellows all into that pen down there, and I 
went to the officer in charge and told him that I was your 
servant, and you was expecting me back to get supper 
and I wanted my 'horse', and he finally told me I might 
go in and pick him out and he would let me go. I went 
in there and found this one, and its better for us than the 
mule and I thought you would like him." It was a sad 
commentary on Johnny's declaration on ship board that 
"he could be honest", but the colonel finding that he had 
made a good swap and that in all probabilities (as after- 
wards proved to be the case) the "corral" was established 


for the purpose of giving the officers a chance to provide 
themselves with horses, and not with the object of return- 
ing them to the owners, he concluded to appropriate the 
beast, which was afterwards appraised by the quarter- 
master's department and paid for, and which proved very 
valuable to him while in service, and gave his children 
much delight for many years after at his home in Fitch- 

Johnny, be it said, did many a good turn of like 
nature to our own, as well as officers of the brigade, with 
whom he was on the best of terms. It was only necessary 
for some one to say, I wish I had such a thing, when 
Johnny would say, "I will get you one, captain," and he 
would, if the country round about could produce it. 

Johnny had private reasons of his own for wishing to 
trade off his mule. The creature had the peculiarity of 
his race known as bucking ; and beside his voice was not 
musical when he set it up in protest. 

The following incident will be recalled by many. It 
was at the camp at Baton Rouge in Magnolia Grove. 
Johnny had been up to the city after the mail, and the 
boys were anxiously awaiting his return ; presently he is 
seen approaching and enters the grove at a moderate 
pace, when suddenly the mule plants his forefeet, raises 
his hind quarters and sends rider and mail bag, and a pail 
of butter he was carrying, over his head. As Johnny lay 
sprawling on the ground the mule stands as if transfixed, 
looking down upon him as if in "sorrow more than anger," 
and gives vent to an unearthly braying, as only he could 


give ; and amid the roars of the regiment Johnny gathers 
himself up unhurt, and on the whole as much pleased 
with the experience as the rest of us. 

April 17th ; this regiment was attached to the First 
Brigade, composed of the One Hundred and Tenth and 
One Hundred and Sixty-second New York Regiments 
and First Maine Battery, the whole being temporarily 
placed under command of Colonel Kimball and detached 
from the division as a rear guard to General Grover's 
trains, to whom it was ordered to report. The route 
taken was a different one from that of the rest of the 
army, but substantially in a course parallel to it across the 
country and at a considerable distance from it. About the 
middle of the day, while crossing quite an elevation of 
land, we suddenly discovered emerging from the woods 
on our right, and at about a half mile distant, quite a large 
troop* of cavalry. We could not at once make out whether 
they were friends or foes. Some of the negroes in the 
neighborhood hinted that there had been a body of "con- 
federates," dressed in United States uniforms, scouring 
the country thereabouts, and it was probably the same. 
How formidable a force might be behind them was un- 
certain, and it was but the work of a moment for the 
colonel to order the battery into position, with a regiment 
to its support, in readiness to repel any attack that might 
be made. But the mystery was soon cleared up, for the 
commanding officer, seeing our preparations, immediately 
rode out from his line and putting spurs to his horse came 
upon the full run up to our lines, and reported himself and 


command as having been sent across country, from the 
main column, to join us in the march to Vermilion ville, 
near which point we bivouacked, at about 8 P. M., having 
marched about eighteen miles. The advance of the main 
column had encountered the enemy's rear and some skir- 
mishing had followed, but he had got himself well across 
the Vermilion river, and destroyed the bridge, which kept 
us there during the next day, and allowed him a day's 
start of us, when we again took up the line of pursuit. 
We stopped this night, the next day and the next night in 
a grove on the banks of the river, giving the regiment a 
much needed rest and a chance for bathing. It is remem- 
bered that during one of these nights we were visited by 
one of those terrific thunder storms, for which that part of 
the country is famous ; the rain coming in such torrents 
as to drive some of us out of the depressed spots we had 
selected to lie down in, and under our limited amount of 
canvas we had to sit the night out in miserable discom- 

April 19th ; the bridge being reconstructed, the brigade 
inarched at 8 A. M. and reached Vermilionville at 10 
A. M. Here was quite a considerable village, which we 
found in a state of trepidation. The male portion of the 
population had mostly fled at our approach, either follow- 
ing in the wake of Dick Taylor's retreating army, or 
"taking to the woods" until our army had passed along. 
Nearlv every house had a white flag flying, but not one 
displayed the "stars and stripes." There might have been 
some latent loyalty left there among the people, but it did 
not show much signs of life. 


The writer, however, remembers one incident personal 
to himself, which lingers pleasantly in his memory after a 
lapse of twenty-five years. As he was riding past an 
humble appearing dwelling, where no white flag hung 
out, he noticed a lady with children sitting on the piazza ; 
when directly opposite, a little girl of about ten or twelve 
years of age came running out and reached up to him a 
beautiful bouquet. It was a slight thing, but it seemed to 
indicate a little spirit of welcome and sympathy of which, 
thus far, we had received very little during our sojourn in 
the state. He fastened the flowers to his saddle, where 
they remained to cheer the day's march, as the memory of 
the incident remained long after as one of the bright 
episodes of an era of hardship and suffering. The prop- 
erty of the inhabitants here was respected under the one- 
sided truce, which the white flags may be supposed to 
have indicated. 

But during the afternoon's march, the same day, oc- 
curred a summary destruction of property well deserved. 
The column was passing not far from a farm house, when 
a soldier left the ranks and went to the well near the house 
to get a drink of water. While in the act some person in 
the house tired a shot which killed him. It was the work 
of a few moments for his comrades to rush from the ranks 
to avenge his death, but in some manner the assassin 
made his .escape into the adjacent woods and was not 
captured, but the torch was immediately applied to the 
house and out-buildings, and before the army had entirely 
passed they were in ashes. It was not surprising that 


little respect was paid to private property for the rest of 
that day's march, and some excesses were committed that 
would not have otherwise occurred. We marched fifteen 
miles this day over a very muddy road and encamped for 
the night thirteen miles from Opelousas. Evidence con- 
tinued to accumulate of the demoralization of Dick Taylor's 
army, stragglers being constantly taken up, and to-day 
two hundred and fifty were captured in a body in the 
woods. During the march this day, the army was obliged 
to ford a swollen stream about twenty rods wide and two 
to three feet in depth. This was done by the men tak- 
ing off shoes, stockings and pants, and wading through. 
Large quantities of burning cotton were passed this day, 
which the rebels had rolled out from the storehouses and 
fired to prevent it falling into our hands. 

April 20th : the regiment marched at 7 A. M. for 
Opelousas, which we entered in the afternoon, and the 
authorities of the town quietly surrendered to General 
Banks. This was the seat of the rebel state government, 
but we found none of the officials left to tender us the 
"freedom of the city," but we took it all the same. The 
troops camped in the fields about the town and a few of 
the buildings were taken for officers' quarters. The re- 
treating army had now got such a start of us, by reason of 
our delay to rebuild bridges, that it was useless to keep up 
the pursuit and it was wisely determined to remain here 
and give the tired soldiers a rest. The march had been a 
most fatiguing one and the roads dry and dusty, but the 
men stood it like veterans and were in high spirits over 


the victory and the complete rout of the enemy. Two 
weeks were spent here. These days were occupied in a 
moderate amount of drilling and the ordinary duties of the 
camp and it was a welcome relief from the fighting and 
forced marches of the previous ten days. 

A division review was also held while we were stop- 
ping at this point. On the evening of April 22d, it being 
the first "dress parade" since the battle, the following 
congratulatory orders from army, division, and brigade 
headquarters were read to the regiment : 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf. 
Near Vermillionville, April 19, 1863. 

General Order No. 28. 

The morning salute celebrates the anniversary of the battles 
of Lexington and Concord in 1775, and the assault upon Ameri- 
can troops at Baltimore in 186 1. The day is consecrated to 
union and liberty. Soldiers, you have exhibited your devotion to 
its hallowed memories and the principles it represents. In peace 
you contributed in every professional and industrial pursuit to 
the prosperity and power which gave a world wide renown to the 
American states. In war you have learned to endure fatigue, 
suffered deprivations, conquered difficulties and achieved victo- 
ries. In three months you have become soldiers ; you have 
defeated the enemy, dispersing his army and destroying his 
navy. In twenty days you have marched three hundred miles, 
fought four engagements, expelled him from his fortifications, 
driven him at the point of the bayonet from Berwick City to 
Opelousas, captured ten guns and two thousand prisoners, in- 
cluding some of his best officers of all arms, and made the 
re-organization of his forces for the present impossible, by de- 
priving him of all the material resources of war, destroying his 
foundries and demolishing his salt works, that for two years have 
sustained the life of the confederacy. 


The navy of the Gulf shares in the honors of the campaign. 
It has encountered and dispersed the fleet of the enemy, and 
sunk the "Queen of the West."' To-day it will reduce the fortifi- 
cations at " Butte La Rose," and open the " Atchafalaya " to the 
Red River and C'ortableau to Washington of Louisiana. 

Let us be grateful to Him who giveth us the victory and true- 
to the cause we defend. 

New glories are before us. The "Army of the Gulf" will 
command the attention of the people and every eye will be 
fastened upon its movements. Let us be true to the flag we bear 
and remember that "to defy danger is to drive it into the ranks 
of the enemy." 

By command of Major General Banks. 

Richard B. Irwix, A. A. G. 

Headquarters Third Division, Nineteenth Corps, 

April 18, 1863. 
General Order No. 44. 

The general commanding this division congratulates his 
troops for the part taken by them in the battles of the 12th and 
13th, when the enemy was driven from his position, well en- 
trenched and defended by artillery and gunboats. 

Most of you were for the first time under lire, yet you stood 
in line of battle within point blank range of the works and 
marched to the attack with a coolness and order, which he has 
not seen surpassed in a long experience. 

Your conduct in those two clays should inspire every man of 
the division, as it does your commander, with entire confidence 
that you will do the duty which the country expects of you. 

By command of Brigadier-General Emory. 
Peter French, A. A. G. 

Headquarters Third Brigade, Third Division, April 18, 1863. 
Official : E. H. Kordham, Captain ami A. A. A. G. 


Headquarters Third Brigade, Third Division. 

Opelousas, La., April 22, 1863. 
General Order No. 23. 

Soldiers : — It is with pride that your brigade commander recalls 
your uniformly good conduct on the march, as well as your 
gallant and noble behavior at Fort Bisland. You have won for 
yourselves an enviable reputation. Be true to that reputation, 
and in the future let your every act in the camp, as well as on the 
battle field, be such as will only add to its purity and splendor. 

For four mortal hours you were exposed to an incessant fire of 
artillery and musketry. You did not falter, but nobly performed 
your duty, driving before you and capturing some of the most 
daring and reckless of Southern troops. For our noble dead, 
who fell fighting so gallantly in the field of Bisland, we drop the 
patriot's tear. May their death be our death and their glory our 
glory. We could ill afford to lose such noble spirits as the brave 
Captain Gault and the chivalric Lieutenants Freer and Nutting, 
but it is pleasing to reflect that they died for the "old flag." Let 
us emulate their example and march on to victory and yet more 


By order of O. P. Gooding, Co/one/ Commanding. 

F. H. Fordham, Captain and A. A. A. G. 

To Colonel J. W. Kimball, Fifty-third Mass. Vols. 

After the foregoing were read Colonel Kimball took 
occasion to address his command substantially as follows: 

Fellow Soldiers : — You have listened to the reading of the 
congratulatory orders from army, division and brigade head- 
quarters, in which I most heartily concur. And as this is our 
first dress parade since our engagement of the 13th instant I 
have thought it appropriate to address a few words to you of 
congratulation and of approbation of your conduct upon that 
trying occasion. It was your first engagement with the enemy, 
and I desire to express to you my unqualified approbation of 


your conduct that day. You were engaged, as the brigade com- 
mander truly says, with some of the most reckless and daring of 
Southern troops, the Texans ; you were exposed to an incessant 
fire of musketry and artillery for five hours, a longer time than I 
have ever seen in my experience a regiment to be pressed for- 
ward as you were in such an open field and in face of such 
fortifications. But it was no more than I expected of you. I 
knew I could depend upon you as I told you when I first saw you 
in line at "Camp Stevens." I went forward into the field with 
the most perfect confidence that every order I might give would 
be obeyed with alacrity. And 1 feel that your conduct on that 
occasion is but a guaranty of what I may expect of you in the 

This regiment was the last one raised in Massachusetts, but 
its flag was the first to wave over the fortifications on the morn- 
ing of the 14th instant. Let us bear it gallantly forward and 
add new lustre to that already gathered around it, and at last 
bear it back to old Massachusetts to be placed in the archives of 
the state as a memorial of the achievements of this regiment. Let 
us not forget on this occasion those of our number who fell upon 
that field of battle and while we sorrow for their loss, let us ever 
cherish their memories with patriotic pride for they died nobly 
fighting for the " old flag." The gallant Lieutenant Nutting, the 
noble hearted Stuart and the brave Thurman ; they died in the 
glorious cause and died as I believe they would have chosen to 
do, rather than to see this regiment driven from the field by the 
traitors in arms against us. 

Letter of Colonel Kimball to Adjutant-General Schoti- 
ler, after the "Bisland fight," sometimes called the ''battle 
of the Teche." 

I\ the Field, April 19, 1863. 

General : — I have the honor to submit a copy of my report of 
the doings of my regiment at the " battle of the Teche." I can 


only repeat what is therein expressed of my entire satisfaction 
with the behavior of my men through that trying occasion. They 
are true and worthy sons of the noble " Old Bay State " which 
sent them forth, and will ever be found ready to meet the 
enemies of their country whether found in the open field or be- 
hind the shelter of entrenchments. Our loss is not severe con- 
sidering the time, ( five hours, ) which we were under fire, but the 
loss of every life sacrificed here is a sorrow to us and to all true 
patriots, only solaced by the thought that they died for the cause 
of justice and right. I have the honor to remain, 

Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

John W. Kimball, Colonel Commanding. 
Adjutant-General William Schouler, Boston, Mass. 

The following is the official report of the 12th, 13th, 
and 14th of April, referred to in the foregoing letter: 

Headquarters Fifty-third Regt. Mass. Vols. 

In the Field, April 16, 1863. 

Captain : — I have the honor to report the doings of my com- 
mand on the 1 2th, 13th, and 14th instant. On the 12th instant 
I was ordered to march from Pattersonville at 10.30 A. M. Pro- 
ceeding in column of companies through the cornfields for about 
one and one-half miles I was then ordered by Lieutenant Loring 
of General Emory's staff, to proceed and take position to the left 
and rear and in support of Colonel Ingraham's brigade, whose 
skirmishers were then engaged with those of the enemy in the field 
beyond a piece of woods in front of his line, and immediately 
took the position indicated, throwing out skirmishers on my left 
flank. Upon proceeding to the support of Colonel Ingraham we 
discovered an abandoned earthwork at the edge of the wood. 
Upon examination found a road leading from it through the 
woods to the field beyond. Deeming this road of some impor- 
tance, I immediately ordered Major Pratt with three companies 


forward to hold the same. At 1.30 o'clock Lieutenant Colonel 
Blanchard, commanding the One Hundred and Sixty-second New 
York Volunteers, reported to me with his command and was 
placed in position on my right. During this time the skirmishing 
in front had been quite brisk with the enemy gradually falling 
back. About 3.30 P. M. I was ordered to join the brigade and 
proceed about one mile toward the front, when I was ordered 
into line of battle, my position being the right of the brigade line. 
After lying in this position about one and a half hours, during 
which time a heavy cannonading was going on at the front, was 
ordered back about three hundred yards to a road where we 
bivouacked for the night. On Monday, 13th instant, at 7 o'clock 
was ordered by Lieutenant Loring to proceed with the One 
Hundred and Fifty-sixth New York Volunteers and the Fifty- 
third Massachusetts to support Duryea's United States Battery. 
Remaining in this position about one hour was ordered by 
Captain Fordham to report immediately with my regiment to 
Colonel Gooding on the other side of " Bayou Teche." Upon 
arriving on the other side was placed in line of battle upon a 
road in front of a catalpa hedge with orders to hold the position 
for the purpose of making a stand in case the troops in front 
were driven back. At fifteen minutes past 2 P. M. was ordered 
by Captain Fordham to move rapidly to the front and to deploy 
four companies of my regiment as skirmishers one hundred and 
fifty yards in the rear of the Thirty-eighth Massachusetts Volun- 
teers, ( which had just relieved the Thirty-first Massachusetts, ) 
holding the other four companies in reserve. I was further 
ordered to be governed in my movements by the movements of 
Lieutenant-Colonel Rodman's command, to support him in case 
of a repulse, and if possible to charge upon and enter the enemy's 
works. Conforming to the movements of Colonel Rodman we 
steadily moved forward under a brisk and well directed fire from 
the enemy's batteries, reserving my fire as the front line was en- 
gaged with the sharp shooters of the enemy. At about 5 o'clock 
I was ordered to move forward and relieve Colonel Rodman, his 
ammunition having become exhausted. My men moved forward 


with alacrity, passing his line some twenty paces in good order 
and immediately engaged the enemy, the firing upon the right 
and left wings being very severe. Sheltering the men as much 
as possible behind stumps, I pressed the line steadily forward 
until the right had approached within one hundred and twenty- 
five yards of the enemy, concealed behind an abatis. The left 
was pressed forward to within two hundred and fifty yards of the 
enemy's works under a galling fire from the enemy's batteries and 
the riflemen concealed behind the entrenchments. The centre 
not being under so heavy a fire was pressed forward until an 
oblique fire was obtained upon the enemy concealed in the abatis. 
Holding this position and maintaining a brisk fire until dark, I 
was ordered by Lieutenant Morey to withdraw the line about 
sixty yards to a ditch and hold that position during the night. 
A few moments before this, my reserve under Major Pratt was 
ordered by Lieutenant Bond to move rapidly forward and relieve 
the two companies on the left of my line. This was rapidly done 
under a hot concentrated fire from the enemy. At 10.30 P. M. 
there were some slight indications of a withdrawal of the enemy 
which increased so much that at 11.30 P. M. I reported to the 
colonel commanding the brigade, through Major Pratt, that I had 
every reason to believe that the enemy was evacuating his works 
on both sides of the bayou. Receiving no further orders, at day- 
break I ordered Captain Stratton with ten men to skirmish 
forward and draw the enemy's fire and also ordered my entire 
line forward, holding it thirty paces in his rear. The men moved 
forward in good order and entered the works, planting our flag 
upon the breastworks at 5.30 A. M. I immediately reported to 
the colonel commanding, the occupation of the works. At 1 
P. M. I was ordered by Captain Fordham to take ten cavalrymen 
and with my regiment to proceed up the left bank of the bayou 
until I should arrive opposite the head of General Weitzel's 
column then moving up on the right bank, and to capture and 
drive in cattle, mules, and horses. We moved as rapidly as pos- 
sible, throwing out flankers on my right, and arrived at the 
plantation of Mr. J. Anderson, opposite Franklin, at 8 P. M., 


where we bivouacked for the night. I cannot close this report 
without speaking of the behavior of my command in this, their 
first engagement with the enemy. 

The men showed under fire the utmost coolness and bravery, 
obeying my orders with alacrity, and moving forward under the 
fire of the enemy with a determination worthy of veterans. Of 
my officers, where all behaved so well, it would be manifestly un- 
just to discriminate and I would say that without exception their 
behavior on the 13th instant meets my hearty approbation. I 
desire to remark that Lieutenant Nutting, who was killed, par- 
ticularly distinguished himself by his personal bravery, placing 
his men in the most favorable positions and encouraging them on 
by act as well as word. He died in a noble cause and I believe 
he had rather meet his death there than to have seen his com- 
pany driven back one foot by the traitors to his country. Ac- 
companying the report I hand you a list of casualties on the 13th 
instant, also a list of captures, and remain, 

Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

John W. Kimball, Colonel Commanding. 

Captain E. H. Fordham, A. A. A. G. 

Headquarters Fifty-third Regt. Mass. Vols. 

In the Field, April 16, 1863. 

Captain : — I have the honor to submit the following list of 
casualties in my regiment on the 13th and 14th instant; also a 
list of captures : 

Killed : First Lieutenant George G. Nutting, commanding 
Company A ; Private Charles W. Stewart, Company A ; Private 
Charles H. Thurman, Company I. 

Wounded : Private Augustus G. Stickney, arm and side, 
slightly, Company D ; Private John P. Allen, in head, danger- 
ously, Company F ; Private Marcellus Whitman, knee, Company 
F : Private Luther Benjamin, contusion breast, Company F ; 
Private Charles J. Goddard, flesh wound, thigh. Company E ; 


Private Thomas Burns, contusion in side, Company E; Private 
Horatio Adams, ankle, badly, Company G ; Private Joseph H. 
Saul, Mesh wound, thigh, Company G ; Sergeant W. H. Lamb, 
finger shot off, Company G. 

Captures : Two privates of the Texas Cavalry, with their 
arms and horses ; three privates of the Louisiana Eighteenth In- 
fantry, with their arms. 

On the march on the 14th instant we captured and drove 
into Franklin about one hundred head of beef cattle, mules and 
horses. I remain very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 

J. W. Kimball, Colonel Commanding. 

April 22d; on this day occurred the death of a mem- 
ber of Company A, Fred Works. He had been sick some 
days but had managed to keep along with the assistance of 
his brother until we reached this point. We buried him 
the same evening, by moonlight, in the cemetery of the 
town. The occasion was an impressive one. His com- 
pany turned out, joined by the colonel and his staff officers, 
and escorted his remains to their final resting place, amid 
the mournful beating of the muffled drums. Arriving at 
the cemetery some of his comrades dug the grave, after 
which the chaplain conducted the burial service. Beside 
the soldiers no spectators were present save a few of the 
dusky "children of bondage," who lingered by, mute 
witnesses of one more sacrifice in the great struo-o-le 
which brought freedom to their race. The service ended, 
the grave was filled up, three volleys fired over it, and we 
resumed our march to camp filled with sad thoughts of the 
anguish to be brought to the distant home of this soldier 


boy now laid to rest amid an unsympathetic and rebel- 
lious people. 

On the 24th of April a review of the Third Division 
was held by General Banks, which passed off very well, 
although the regiments appeared with ranks much de- 
pleted bv disease and the casualties of battle. 

On the 25th a skirmish drill was held in the forenoon. 
At about 3 P. M., the "long roll" caused every man to 
spring for his gun and equipments and "fall in." What- 
ever enthusiasm was occasioned by it, soon gave way to 
deep seated disgust when it was learned that the order 
came from our "West Point lieutenant" at brigade head- 
quarters for the purpose, it was said, of finding out "how 
many of the men were absent without leave." News 
came to-dav of the capture of Alexandria by the gunboats, 
but Taylor's army had already got west of that point. 



Gathering of Cotton and Negroes — On the March Again — Death of 
Captain Dwight— Incidents Along the Route— Arrival at Alexan- 
dria — Departure for Simsport — Election of Officers. 

This stay of ours at Opelousas had an object in view. 
The army was gathering cotton, sugar and molasses, and 
shipping them to New Orleans and Brashear City. The 
Navy of the Gulf had been active while the army was 
operating on land and had opened up the Atchafalaya river 
to the Red river, and the Cortableau to Washington, a 
short distance from Opelousas, and from this latter point 
the shipments of the produce gathered was made. We 
were not only collecting cotton but also the irrepressible 
negroes. As has been before remarked they had followed 
us in large numbers all the way from Berwick Bay to 
Opelousas and since our location here had flocked into 
town very freely. Instinctively they seemed to think they 
should fare well by following the fortunes of the army. 
What was to be done with them? A "contraband camp" 
was established in town where they were fed for the time 
being and worked as their services might be required in 
gathering in the produce of the country, but before we left 
they were shipped with the other "commodities" to New 
Orleans. The summing up of the results of the two 
weeks' stav of the army in this section of the state was 



the shipment on the river to Brashear City and by an im- 
mense wagon train live miles long to New Iberia and 
Franklin about as follows : Six thousand negroes, rive 
hundred plantation wagons, three thousand mules and 
horses and a large number of cattle. Also five thousand 
bales of cotton and immense quantities of sugar and 

Several of our officers supplied themselves with good 
servants from the "contraband camp" above alluded to, 
some of whom remained with us to the end and came 
North with us. Notable among them was the surgeon's 
boy, "Opelousas Tommy," a fourteen year old, who be- 
came an apt disciple of " New York Johnny," and they 
were in the habit of "hunting in couples." Tommy came 
home with us, lived in Fitchburg and Princeton, was after- 
wards a servant in Young's Hotel, Boston, and the last the 
writer knew of him he was ministering to the comfort of 
the Harvard students at Memorial Hall Cafe, Cambridge. 
The colonel also brought home a tall, full grown, athletic 
nesiro named John Lewis, who, however, came to us on 
the march. He was as expert with the "lariat" as a 
Mexican ranger and at times was very useful in capturing 
runaway horses, or lassoing a beef creature when we 
needed and were in condition to slaughter and cook it. 

April 26th, being Sunday, the regiment was quiet. 
No services were held, the chaplain being sick. Many 
were writing letters home ; Sunday was the letter writing 
day and the evening usually brought to headquarters a 
large mail to be forwarded by first opportunity. The op- 
portunity in this case was the departure of the chaplain on 


the 28th for New Orleans. He went for some supplies 
and with orders to return as soon as practicable, and to 
gather such members of the regiment as he might find 
able to do duty and bring them back with him, and also to 
bring all mail and express matter which he might find for 
the regiment in the city. But the day after he left a 
heavy mail was received, which carried gladness to many 
hearts and doubtless sorrow to some. 

On April 30th the regiment was mustered for pay. 
May 1st; some skirmishing with the enemy occurred 
this day near Washington and the regiment was ordered 
to be ready to march at a moment's notice. But no en- 
gagement grew out of it, there being no considerable force 
of the enemy in the vicinity, and the 2d, 3d, and 4th of 
May were spent in the ordinary duties of the camp and 
drill, and on the evening of the 4th the regiment was 
ordered to move the next morning. 

The following extracts from the writer's private Journal 
will give substantially the experience of the regiment from 
Opelousas to Alexandria : 

Tuesday, May 5th, 1863; we yesterday received or- 
ders to be ready to march at very short notice, and this 
morning were ordered to move at 5.30 o'clock. We 
started a little past 6 o'clock, taking the road to Washing- 
ton, five miles distant, where we arrived about 9 A. M. 
This is quite a village and has some very respectable 
private dwellings built after the northern style. But it 
was deserted of everything except negroes and old men. 
The negroes lined the streets as we passed, as they do 


every village and plantation, grinning with delight to see 
us, littering their ejaculations of welcome, and offering 
water, corn cake and other things to the troops. They 
evidently think there is a good time coming for them. 
About two miles beyond here a cold-blooded murder of 
one of our officers was yesterday committed by guerillas. 
It was Captain Dwight, of General Banks" staff. He was 
riding along alone, going to join General Dwight, his 
brother, whose brigade had passed on the day before, 
when he was surprised by three rebel horsemen. Seeing 
he was in their power he called out that he would sur- 
render, but they cried out, "Shoot the damned Yankee," 
"kill him"; and shoot they did, hitting him in the head, 
killing him instantly. He was a fine young man from 
Roxbury. ' The greatest indignation prevailed, and we 
understand that General Banks had a large number of the 
citizens of the neighborhood arrested to be held as host- 
ages and gave notice that if another man was shot on the 
march, one of those should share the same fate, to be de- 
cided by lot. 

Saturday, May 9th ; the day was very fine and we 
marched along at a good rate following the course of the 
Bayou Beauf ; the route is very crooked but very pleasant, 
through a fine country, abounding in sugar and cotton. I 
saw to-day for the first time the large magnolia tree in 
bloom ; the flower is tulip shape, perfectly white and 
nearly as large around as a pint bowl, very fragrant and 
beautiful. We marched until 5.30 o'clock when we went 
into camp for the night in a large field surrounded by 


woods. We pitch our shelters and are tired enough to 
rest well through the night. The consciousness that we 
may be attacked at any moment does not in the least dis- 
turb us. We have schooled ourselves to these things and 
keep prepared to hear the " long roll " beat at any time. 
It has been very dusty and we are very dirty and glad to 
get a wash from the bayou, near by. Reveille is ordered 
to beat at 3.30 in the morning and the march to be re- 
sumed at 5 o'clock. Marched this day nineteen miles. 

Wednesday, May 6th, 1863 ; marched this morning at 
5.30 o'clock. The morning was more beautiful than yes- 
terday, a cool breeze blowing from the north-east, which 
continued all day and rendered the march in one respect 
comfortable but in another very uncomfortable, for the 
wind raised the dust, which at times became so dense that 
we could not see half the length of the regiment. But we 
move steadily on with eyes, nose, hair, ears, clothes com- 
pletely filled with the article, so completely covering us 
that we look more like our "butternut'" enemies than the 
blue clothed boys of "Uncle Sam," and we find upon un- 
dressing to bathe, that it has penetrated the clothing and 
the color of the skin is the color of the road we have 

On our route to-day we passed some of the finest 
plantations in the state, the general appearance of the 
land and buildings giving evidence that there is much of 
the Yankee enterprise mixed in with the population of this 
district, which is indeed the case : large quantities of 
cotton are on hand but very little growing, the land being 


nearly all in corn this year which is as forward as with us 
in the middle of July. We now and then leave the road 
and make a cut across the fields, and one of corn in par- 
ticular we crossed, I should judge to be a mile square. 
We passed a load of prisoners, ("guerillas,") who warned 
us that we should very soon "run against a stump," but we 
have learned to pay no regard to what they may say or 
advise. We pass through the little village of Holmesville 
at 3 P. M., and go into camp on the banks of the bayou 
at 4 P. M. Not a single guerilla has yet disturbed us ; 
all is quiet and we see in our travels very few persons 
aside from the blacks. 

We have marched this day about twenty-one miles, 
but tired, dirty and plucky, we lie down to sleep to be 
awakened at 3.30 in the morning to resume the march. 
Our boys (servants) manage to pick up on the route 
poultry and vegetables so that we generally make a nice 
supper before going to bed. 

Thursday, May 7th, 1863 ; we marched at 5.30 A. M. 
Cool and good breeze blowing — the men are getting foot 
sore but are in good spirits and anxious to get ahead. 
We pass through Cheney ville at about 2 P. M., where we 
stopped one hour for dinner on the bank of the bayou. 

While there General Banks and staff, with his body 
guard, passed up just on the other bank and received the 
hearty cheers of the soldiers, who have come to believe in 
him pretty thoroughly. All have great confidence in his 
prudence and sagacity and feel that he will not get us into 
any bad position. The dust of yesterday continued, but 


we could only look forward to a wash at night in the 
bayou along whose course we still wind our way. We 
heard this P. M. that Alexandria is in our possession but 
hope 'to know from actual observation by to-morrow even- 
ing. Went into camp at 5 P. M., in a beautiful little 
grove, having marched about twenty-three miles. Our 
camp was near a sugar house and the men furnished 
themselves with all the sugar they wished from it. Fresh 
beef was issued to the troops to-night. 

Friday, May 8th, 1863; marched at 6 A. M., being 
the rear guard of the train. We confidently expect a 
brush before night and impress upon the men the im- 
portance of keeping in their places that we may form 
"line of battle" at short notice. The men who could 
hardly drag themselves along last night seem to brighten 
right up with the prospect of reaching Alexandria to-night 
even though we have to fight our way in. But this was 
not to be ; as on previous days, all was quiet at the front 
and no raid disturbs us in the rear. We are reaching 
the suburbs of Alexandria and pass some beautiful resi- 
dences, among them Governor Moore's, (the present rebel 
governor,) next to his comes the " Widow Flowers'," and 
as fine grounds as I ever saw in the suburbs of Boston ; 
in fact I never saw a place laid out in better taste. Next 
comes Colonel Bailey's, where we stopped for two hours' 
" nooning." On the broad lawn in front of the house the 
men sat down, surrounded by the most beautiful shrubs 
and flowers, and built their little fires to boil their tea and 
coffee. The colonel told them they were not to go to the 


house and they kept away. I rode up to see " my lady," 
who had made her appearance on the piazza, and found 
there a woman of about forty, neatly dressed in muslin, 
who appeared to be a perfect lady. She complained that 
our men were pillaging her premises. I told her that our 
regiment had received orders not to come to the buildings 
and were in the habit of obeying their orders, but offered 
to go and explore the "negro quarters" and find any who 
might be there, which I did, — rinding two or three of our 
men trading with the negroes and some from other regi- 
ments picking up what they could find. I cleared them 
out and went back to enjoy an argument with "Madame" 
upon the comparative merits of the two armies as respects 
pillaging. She contended that General Taylor's army did 
not do such things ; but I convinced her, or tried to, that 
all along the road they had cleaned everything out to such 
an extent that our men could find nothing to steal, if they 
were disposed to. She run on to the subject of the war 
and seemed thoroughly disgusted with the whole thing ; 
said we might take every negro she had if we would and 
wished herself in Europe to spend the rest of her days. 
Through the whole she was perfectly lady-like and I 
doubt not felt all she said. At 3 o'clock the bugles 
sounded "the advance" and we were again on the last five 
miles stretch, which we put through in a couple of hours 
and arrived at Alexandria at 6 P. M. The "stars and 
stripes " were floating over the town as we came in sight 
of it and it was indeed a welcome sight. We marched 
about twenty miles this day. Camped on the banks of 
the Red river, where we hope to rest for a few days. 


We had marched from Opelousas about eighty-five 
miles and in all from Berwick Bay about two hundred 
miles. On the 9th we were engaged in getting settled in 
camp and cleaning up. The men erected their shelter 
tents and made themselves comparatively comfortable. 
We were located on a bluff overlooking the Red river, 
which furnished us good water and gave us excellent fa- 
cilities for bathing. 

Monday, May 10th ; from midnight until 6 o'clock this 
morning heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of 
Port Hudson, and it is believed the gunboats are engaged 
in another duel with the land batteries. A "Division 
Court Martial," of which Colonel Kimball is a member, 
was convened this day for the trial of such cases as might 
be brought before it. The ordinary duties of the camp 
were again resumed and on the nth an inspection of the 
regiment was made by Captain Allen. We found Alex- 
andria a place where it was evident a large amount of 
business was ordinarily done, but now practically deserted 
by the able-bodied business men, the population being 
mostly old men, women and children, and negroes. The 
stores seemed nearly depleted of their stocks and we were 
unable to procure some things we had anticipated for our 
comfort. Dick Taylor's army had confiscated most every- 
thing available and had moved on toward Shreveport. 
We remained here one week and on the evening of the 
14th received orders to be ready to march at 4 A. M. on 
the next daw 

May 15th; we marched at 4.30 A. M., second in bri- 
gade line. Our route was over the same road by which 


we had come a week before, and at 4.30 P. M. we found 
ourselves at our old camp ground at "Jackson Station," 
twenty-three miles having been marched. 

May 1 6th ; the regiment marched at 5 A. M. and was 
first in brigade line, with Company E as brigade rear 
guard. We again passed through Cheneyville, near 
Huntsville, and went into camp at 4 P. M. two miles east 
of Bayou Beauf. It had been an exceedingly hot day but 
we had marched twenty-two miles. 

May 17th; this was Sunday, but on a "forced march" 
all days are the same, and we are oft' again at 5 A. M., 
this time marching in the rear of the Brigade. We fol- 
lowed the Bayou Rouge, about six miles, striking the 
Bayou de Glace and following that about fourteen miles, 
passing through the very small villages of Moreauville, 
Enterprise and Evergreen. We went into camp at 4 
P. M. Rations of sugar and molasses were here issued to 
all and were much appreciated. 

On the 18th we again took up the line of march at 
5 A. M. for Simsport, marching third in line. This was 
the shortest day's march we had experienced, the distance 
being only eight miles, and we went into camp near 
"Fishers landing" on the Bradley plantation. Bradley 
was a noted rebel in that locality, who fired from his house 
on the "Queen of the West" when she first appeared on 
the Atchafalava river and killed the captain. A part of the 
crew were sent on shore in search of the guerilla but he 
had fled. But his house remained and they soon applied 
the torch to that and it was destroyed. In the rear of 


these ruins we established the headquarters of the regi- 

It has been before stated that this regiment was or- 
ganized as a militia regiment of the state of Massachusetts. 
It left Camp Stevens with a full complement of officers, 
but when we left New York for the South, Companies A 
and D were without captains owing to the resignations of 
Captain E. T. Miles and Captain A. J. Clough. Soon 
after we had got well settled in camp at Carrollton the 
colonel communicated to the brigade commander (Colonel 
Gooding) his wish to have an election in those two com- 
panies to fill the vacancies. This was met with a point 
blank refusal on his part. He vowed that ft he would have 
no town meetings held in his brigade" and declared that 
any communication coming to his headquarters with the 
words Massachusetts Militia upon it would not be re- 
ceived, that if Colonel Kimball wished any appointments 
or promotions made in his regiment he must recommend 
them in the usual way and he would endorse them to 
the governor of Massachusetts for commissions. Colonel 
Kimball coincided to a certain extent with the brigade 
commander in his views of the system, but not with his 
view of the law, and made his recommendations and sent 
them on to Governor Andrew with a communication recit- 
ing all the facts. It raised quite a law question which was 
submitted to the legal adviser of the governor's council, 
who gave an elaborate opinion to the effect that there was 
no law in Massachusetts which would authorize the gov- 
ernor to commission an officer in the militia upon a simple 


recommendation of a superior oificer, and that no officers 
could be commissioned in the Fifty-third Regiment until 
they were duly elected. The governor expressed the 
hope, in closing the correspondence, that Colonel Gooding 
would appreciate the emergency and allow an election to 
be held. The whole correspondence was laid before the 
brigade commander, accompanied with the following letter 
from Colonel Kimball : 

Headquarters Fifty-third Mass. Regt. 

Simsport, La., May i8, 1863. 
Captain E. H. Fordham, A. A. G. 

Sir: — I beg to call your attention to the enclosed correspond- 
ence received by me in reply to a letter to the adjutant-general of 
Massachusetts, in which recommendations for promotions were 
made in accordance with instructions from brigade headquarters. 
I would say that I desire very much to fill the vacancies in the 
list of commissioned officers of this regiment ; that I have acting 
in the capacity of lieutenants, sergeants who are in every way 
well fitted to fill these offices. These men, I am well satisfied, 
would be the first choice of a majority of the members of their 
respective companies. Being so confident on this point, I would 
respectfully ask that authority may be granted for holding an 
election in accordance with Massachusetts laws, simply to obviate 
the difficulty raised by the governor. I am more anxious that 
these men may receive commissions for the reason that they 
have earned them, not only for their efficiency and uniformly 
good conduct through the whole period of service, but by their 
gallantry on the field of battle. 

Trusting the matter may meet with a favorable consideration, 
I have the honor to remain, 

Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

J. W. Kimball, Colonel Commanding. 

massachusetts volunteers. ill 

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 

Executive Department, 

Boston, April 18, 1863. 

Colonel J. W. Kimball, Commanding Fifty-third Massachusetts 
Volunteer Militia. 

Colonel : — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of 
your list of recommendations, which I referred to Colonel Ritchie 
for examination. The enclosed is a copy of his report which 1 
forward as my answer. 

I am compelled to acquiesce in the truth of the views ex- 
pressed, irrespective of whatever might be my opinion of the 
expediency of the present state of the law. 

Respectfully Colonel, your obedient servant, 

John A. Andrew. 

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 

Executive Department, 

Boston, April 15, 1863. 

His Excellency John A. Andrew, Governor and Commander- 

Your Excellency : — I respectfully return the within papers 
from the colonels of the Fifty-third and Forty-eighth Regiments. 

Colonel Stone of the Forty-eighth forwards a copy of an 
order placing two sergeants on duty as first lieutenants and five 
sergeants as second lieutenants. In his letter of March 10th, 
which accompanies the order, Colonel Stone nominates the same 
seven sergeants for promotion. * * * * * 

No one is more convinced than myself of the utter viciousness 
of the militia's system of election of officers ; and as the nine 
months regiments are in reality as much volunteer as the three 
years regiments, I believe they could without difficulty have been 
raised and mustered as regiments of nine months volunteers. In 
point of fact, however, they were raised as militia regiments under 
the militia laws of Massachusetts, and much as I regret the 
conclusions to which I am forced, yet I cannot perceive any 
grounds upon which your Excellency would be legally authorized 


to issue commissions in these militia regiments to any persons 
but those elected under the militia laws of the state ; and I feel 
reluctantly obliged to confess that the recommendations of the 
colonels of these nine months regiments are of no sort of effect. 
I have no doubt that it would be for the good of the service 
if the promotions in these regiments were made, as in the three 
years, directly of your own authority upon the recommendations 
of the colonels. 

I consider the elective system radically bad, subversive of all 
subordination, discipline and military effectiveness. I have no 
doubt the officers and men of the nine months regiments all 
recognize this, and would be glad to be assimilated as much as 
possible to the three years regiments. Still, as a question of legal 
right, I believe your Excellency cannot issue commissions in 
these regiments of militia excepting upon a record of an election 
held in accordance with state laws. 

The same remarks apply to the Fifty-third, and though I fully 
sympathize with Colonel Gooding and believe that in resisting 
" the holding of town meetings in the regiments of his brigade " 
he has acted from a conviction that such proceedings tend to 
utterly destroy all semblance of military discipline, yet I think 
that he ought to be informed that these troops were enlisted and 
mustered into the United States service, under a call from the 
President for the militia of the state, as a part of its militia, 
and though we wish it were otherwise there is no help for it, and 
he cannot set up his own ideas in opposition to the laws and con- 
stitution of the state. I am clearly of the opinion that the good 
of the service, in a military point of view, would be best served 
by your Excellency commissioning the parties nominated, but I 
am as clearly of the opinion that there is no warrant in law for 
so doing. I therefore recommend that the papers be returned to 
the colonels of the Forty-eighth and Fifty-third Regiments with a 
statement of the substance of these views. 

Respectfully your obedient servant, 

[Signed] Harrison Ritchie, 

Lieutenant-Colonel and A. D. C. 


Headquarters Third Brigade, Third Division, 

Near Simsport, La., May 20, 1863. 

Sir: — I have to acknowledge receipt this day of Colonel 
Kimball's note of 18th instant, with enclosures relative to elec- 
tion of officers to fill vacancies in your regiment. I am in- 
structed by the colonel commanding to say that under the 
circumstances and through respect to the laws of Massachusetts 
he authorizes such an election to take place immediately. 

He desires me further to say, that at this election no discus- 
sion as to the merits or demerits of any officer or any one acting 
in the capacity of a commissioned officer will be permitted. It is 
destructive of all discipline and will not be allowed. I am sir. 
Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

E. H. Fordham, Captain and A. A. G. 

During the time this controversy had been going on, 
we had fought a battle and Lieutenant Nutting, command- 
ing Company A, had been killed, and Second Lieutenant 
Tuttle of Company A and Second Lieutenant Freeman of 
Company I had resigned, on account of ill health, Com- 
pany A being left with no commissioned officer. The re- 
sult of Colonel Kimball's letter to Colonel Gooding was 
that permission was given for holding the elections under 
certain conditions, which are set forth in the following 

order : 

Headquarters Fifty-third Mass. Regt. 

Near Simsport, La., May 21, 1863. 
Regimental Special Order No. 51. 

Pursuant to authority from brigade headquarters an elec- 
tion to fill vacancies in the commissioned officers of Companies 
A, D and I will be held this day. That of Company A at 2 
o'clock P. M., of Company D at 3 o'clock P. M., of Company I 



at 4 o'clock P. M. Major James A. Pratt will preside. The 
provisions of the communication just received will be strictly ad- 
hered to. There will be no caucusing or public discussion of the 
merits or claims of any individual. At the hour appointed the 
company will be formed and proceed under the officer in com- 
mand to the headquarters of the regiment, each man having his 
ballot prepared. The roll of the company will then be called in 
alphabetical order and each man, as his name is called, will step 
forward and drop his vote in the box prepared to receive it. 
Each officer will be voted for on a separate ballot in the order of 
rank. The commanding officer of each company will see that the 
utmost order and decorum is preserved during the proceedings. 

In accordance with the foregoing an election was held 
at Simsport, May 21st, and the following officers were 
elected : 

Company A, Captain, George H. Bailey; First Lieu- 
tenant, Jerome K. Taft ; Second Lieutenant, Frederick A. 
Hale. Company D, Captain, Anson D. Fessenden ; First 
Lieutenant, Stephen W. Longley ; Second Lieutenant, 
Clesson Kenney. Company I, Second Lieutenant, John 
C. Ayers. 

The elections proceeded without excitement and the 
results were generally satisfactory. 

Captain Bailey was mortally wounded May 25th and 
died on the 27th, thus leaving Company A again with- 
out a captain. Another election was held at Port 
Hudson, June 10th, and First Lieutenant Taft was pro- 
moted to be captain, and Private Henry T. Pratt was 
elected first lieutenant. On the 14th of June, four days 
later, Captain Taft was mortally wounded, dying a few 


days later, and no election was ever held to fill his va- 
cancy, the company coming home under command of 
Lieutenant Pratt. Elections were held later at Donald- 
sonville to fill vacancies caused by the deaths of First 
Lieutenant Glover of Company C and First Lieutenant 
Vose of Company I, Sergeant Charles E. Fisher being 
promoted to the place of the former and Second Lieuten- 
ant John C. Ayers to the latter; the second lieutenancy in 
Company D remaining vacant. 

The selections thus made by the men for their officers 
proved good ones, but it must be admitted that these 
methods would not in the long run be advisable, and might 
in some cases prove quite subversive of good discipline, 
upon which depends to so high a degree the efficiency of 
soldiers. It was a condition of things which grew out 
of the sudden emergency which called out the large force 
of short time men, and it was thought that such method of 
organization would produce an esprit du corps among the 
men that would be productive of good results. 


March to Port Hudson— General Johnston's Letter— The Siege Com- 
menced—Disposition of the Forces— General Assault, May 27th— 
Disastrous Cross Firing in the Night— The Expedition to Clinton 
—Demand for Surrender— Another Assault Ordered. 

On May 21st the division marched for Port Hudson, 
except this regiment which was left behind to guard the 
quartermaster stores until Weitzel's Division should come 


The plan of our whole campaign begins to be de- 
veloped. The first operation was to cut oft' the river com- 
munication by which Port Hudson could receive supplies 
and also reinforcements. This was accomplished, it will 
be readily comprehended, on the 14th of March, when the 
army was marched up from Baton Rouge to make a feint 
of attack, and the gunboats Hartford and Albatross run 
past the batteries, and from that time forward held the 
river above the town. 

The next move of importance was to clear the country 
west and south of New Orleans from the rebel force, and 
to open the navigation of the Atchafalaya river from the 
Red river to the Bay, which was done by the capture of 
the forts at Bisland and driving Dick Taylor's army far 
beyond Alexandria, aided by the navy on the rivers and 
bayous. And now that New Orleans was safe from any 
attack in the rear, the crowning act was to capture the 
formidable stronghold of Port Hudson. A siege was to 


be instituted by moving our force across from Alexandria 
to the north of it while the force we six weeks ago left at 
Baton Rouge should be moved up from the south and 
form a junction. And this is what is now being accom- 

General Banks had been in correspondence with Gen- 
eral Grant, as will appear hereafter, as to co-operation in 
their movements, — uniting their forces and capturing Port 
Hudson first, and Vicksburg later, — but it was finally de- 
cided that each should push his operations independent of 
the other. 

It had been pretty well settled by the naval engage- 
ment of the 14th of March that Port Hudson could not be 
taken by water, and the other alternative was a close siege 
and a possible successful "storming of the works," and in 
this view the next move of Banks' army was made. 

On the 22d the regiment at 7 P. M. embarked on 
board the Laurel Hill. We sailed up the Atchafalaya 
river out into the Red river (for the peculiarity of the 
rivers and bayous here is that you can go in and out at 
either end of them) down the Red river and Mississippi to 
Bayou Sara, a point ten or twelve miles above Port Hud- 
son, arriving there at 1 A. M. on the 23d. This town pre- 
sented a very battered appearance as it was bombarded 
and pretty effectually destroyed by Porter, in the summer 
of 1862, in retaliation for the firing upon him by guerillas 
concealed in the houses. At 7 A. M. we marched for the 
front, guarding our ammunition train. We joined the bri- 
gade at 5.30 P. M. We are now within two miles of Port 


Hudson and very near the outer pickets of the enemy. 
The whole regiment was ordered on picket duty for the 
night on the road leading into port Hudson. 

On the 24th the regiment marched at 10 A. M. After 
proceeding about one mile we were detached from the 
brigade as a guard for the "engineer corps." This was a 
proud moment for the regiment, as its position in the 
column at the time was in the rear of several other regi- 
ments, some of which were much older in the service, and 
as they opened to the right and left to let us pass through 
to take the lead of the division, the} - indulged in some re- 
marks not at all complimentary to the "nine months men.'* 
But General Paine knew how well he could depend upon 
the regiment and its brave and experienced commander 
and had selected wisely. We entered the woods and pro- 
ceeded about half a mile to where a bridge was to be built 
across a small stream and here we encountered the skir- 
mishers of the enemy. Captain Stratton was ordered to 
charge with his company across the brook and into the 
thicket from whence the shots had come, when the rebels 
precipitately retired. This route was then abandoned for 
one more feasible a little farther to the left, where the 
whole regiment again went on picket for the night. Gen- 
eral Banks and staff came up just before night and riding 
out upon the field just in front of our picket line was fired 
upon by the enemy but no one was hurt. The regiment 
was immediately got into position to repel an attack but 
none was made. In the morning the regiment was or- 
dered to join the brigade, and at 1 P. M. moved forward 


to the front, where the skirmishers were actively engaged. 
Arriving in their vicinity the Fifty-third formed in line of 
battle in support of the Ninety-first New York in the front 
line, which regiment it relieved at dark by order of Gen- 
eral Paine, who accompanied his order with the compli- 
mentary remark that "he wanted this regiment because he 
knew he could depend upon it to hold the position through 
the night, though he knew the entire regiment had been 
on picket duty for the two preceding nights."' Six com- 
panies were deployed in skirmish line and two held in 
reserve. Soon after taking position an unfortunate acci- 
dent occurred. The enemy having suddenly opened upon 
us, their fire was quickly returned by two New York 
regiments in the rear, thus bringing the Fifty-third be- 
tween the two. Fortunately the firing soon ceased and 
the line remained unbroken, and but few casualties had 
occurred. It was here that Captain George H. Bailey, 
Company A, lost his life. He was a brave officer and 
beloved by all. He had been elected Captain of Com- 
pany A but one week before and survived its previous 
commander (Nutting) only six weeks. The position was 
held during the night and after repulsing an attack of the 
enemy upon the left, in the morning, the regiment was 
relieved and passed to the rear. 

The investment of Port Hudson was now complete, 
Generals Augur and Sherman having advanced from 
Baton Rouge on the south and joined their forces to ours 
from the north. The entire length of our line from the river 
above the town to the river below was about six miles, 


that of the enemy about four miles, and strongly posted 
behind fortifications. The river above and below was 
patroled by our gunboats and they could have no avenue 
of supplies open to them. 

The disposition of the army at this time was as fol- 
i ows : — General Weitzel's troops occupied the extreme 
right, resting upon Thompson's creek, and across Foster's 
creek back of and up to the Big Sandy. Next came the 
forces under Generals Grover, Paine, Augur and Dwight, 
in the order named. The extreme federal left extending 
just above Prophet's island to where rested the gunboats 
Monongahela, Essex, Gennesee and Richmond, and sev- 
eral mortar boats under Commander C. H. Caldwell. 

Farragut was stationed above Port Hudson with the 
Hartford, Albatross and a few smaller vessels. * Banks 
wrote to General Grant that he should have before Port 
Hudson fifteen thousand good men, all told, on the 25th of 
Mav, and it is presumed that not far from that number 
were on the ground. 

Under these circumstances it would seem that we had 
nothing to do but to sit down and wait for the "starvation 
process" to do its work. But this was not to be. 

It should here be noted that General Gardner, com- 
manding at Port Hudson, had by this time become aware 
of Banks' intentions. He had some weeks previous sent 
to Vicksburg three brigades, reducing his force from twelve 
thousand to about seven thousand and now asked General 

*Banks to Grant, May 8th, Official Records, of the Union and Confederate 
Armies, volume 24, page 281. 


Johnston tor reinforcements. Some correspondence en- 
sued, which ended as shown in the following letter from 
Johnston on the subject: 

*" On May 23d I received a despatch from Major-General 
Gardner, dated Port Hudson, May 21st, informing me that the 
enemy was about to cross at Bayou Sara ; that the whole force 
from Baton Rouge was on his front, and asking to be reinforced. 
On this, my orders to evacuate Port Hudson were repeated, and 
he was informed, ' You cannot be reinforced ; do not allow your- 
self to be invested ; at every risk save the troops, and if practica- 
ble move in this direction.' " 

This despatch did not reach General Gardner until he 
was already invested. 

May 27th was the day of the first general attack upon 
the works. This regiment was ordered to be ready to 
move at 5 A. M. At that hour it stood in line and Colonel 
Kimball came out to address the men. He told them that 
hard work was before us, but he expected ever}' man 
would do his duty and strictly obey his orders. That if 
they were ordered to charge and take a battery, he should 
expect them to do it, and asked them if he could rely 
upon them in every emergency, when a hearty, unanimous 
"yes" was shouted along the whole line. 

The regiment, still eight companies only, had arrived 
at Port Hudson with about four hundred men and we had 
three hundred and seventy-seven to go into the fight with 
this morning. It will be seen that the four months cam- 
paign thus far had reduced the companies to about fifty 

*Official Records. 


per cent, of their original strength, and this mainly by 
disease induced by this fearfully unhealthy climate. But 
what are left are full of spirit and enthusiasm and are 
bound to achieve some creditable results before their term 
of service closes. 

The regiment was ordered forward at 5.30 A. M. and 
moved in line of battle in rear of the Thirty-eighth Massa- 
chusetts and was soon under fire of shot and shell. The 
enemy was pressed steadily back and was soon driven in- 
side his fortifications. The regiment was moved to the 
front and supported the First Maine and Bainbridge's Bat- 
teries for two hours. 

While lying in this position there were no casualties 
though the shells were flying over them in a lively man- 
ner. One, a thirty-pounder, struck and entered the 
ground so near Company G's line that one man's haver- 
sack, lying in front of him, was thrown into the air and 
the men near by were well covered by the earth thrown 
up as the shell struck, but not a single man moved from 
his position. Another (solid shot) struck a tree about 
thirty feet from the ground, cutting it completely off at a 
point eight inches in diameter, the top as it fell killing one 
horse and crushing a caisson of the First Maine Battery, a 
little in front of our line. 

The regiment was then ordered to the front line of 
skirmishers to relieve the Ninety-first New York holding 
a position at the brow of a hill within sixty yards of the 
rebel works. We held the position during this day. A 
charge was made by a regiment to left of us, up a ravine, 


but it was forced to return with heavy loss. Firing was 
kept up until dark. Our loss to this time was about thirty. 
About midnight, as most of the men were sleeping quietly, 
a sudden fire was opened along the line and it was at first 
thought the rebels had made a "sally" from their works. 
The firing was quite indiscriminate and we soon became 
victims of another return fire from a New York regiment 
in our rear, which resulted in one of Company F being 
shot in the face, another in the leg and another in the arm. 
The confusion was great for a few minutes but the firing 
soon ceased and order was again restored. 

After the firing was over and as Captain Mudge and 
the writer were groping about in the darkness among the 
men lying near us, we heard a most mournful and indis- 
tinct cry of "Captain, captain, I am hurt/' We were 
soon at his side and found it to be Private Charles E. 
Smith of his company, one of our youngest boys. The 
captain thought he was frightened and said, "Lie down 
and go to sleep, you are all right." "No, captain, I am 
shot in my face," came in labored and scarcely intelligible 
words. The writer drew a match and lighted it over his 
face which presented a ghastly sight. We found that a 
bullet had gone through the poor boy's face from one 
cheek to the other, carrying away his front teeth and top 
of his mouth. We sent him to the rear and in a few days 
he was sent to New Orleans into a hospital, where he re- 
covered sufficiently to start for home after about six weeks. 
He lived several years but carried a badly scarred face as 
a result of that terrible night's experience. 


In the morning on both sides firing was again re- 
sumed and continued until 10 A. M., when a truce was 
declared until 7 P. M. for the purpose of getting off the 
wounded and burying the dead. White flags were put up 
on both sides and in a moment the men of both armies 
stood up and peacefully gazed upon each other "across the 
bloody chasm." Some fraternizing was commenced be- 
tween them, but it was soon put a stop to by the officers. 

Some incidents of this fight may be mentioned : The 
position of our skirmishers was at the brow of a small hill 
at the foot of which was our reserve. Our color bearers 
had planted* our flag on the ridge, where it stood a men- 
ace, and at the same time a target for the enemy . They 
vainly endeavored for a long time to bring it down and 
finally succeeded, a ball going through the staff. As it 
fell, Color-Corporal Hosmer caught it, and immediately 
with yankee ingenuity cut a section of bark from a sapling 
near by, put it around the staff and with some strong cord 
wound it firmly, making it practically as serviceable as 
before, and again planted it in its old position, where it 
remained until the end of the fight. The flag was carried 
through the entire service and may be seen at the State 
House to-day with no other mending except what it re- 
ceived as above described. 

This was a dangerous spot for a man to show himself. 
During the fight of the day before Captain Hubbard of 
General Weitzel's staff came there to try and reconnoitre 
the enemy's line but was soon shot dead. Lieutenant 
Louis A. Wrotnowski of the same general's staff, came 


there and borrowed a gun of one oi* the men "to take a 
shot himself at a rebel," but he exposed himself and a shot 
went through his head and he came tumbling down the 
bank among us. We took him beside the little brook 
which flowed at the base of the hill and tenderly bathed 
his head, in the vain hope that his wound was not mortal, 
but he was unable to speak and was soon gone. He was 
a fine formed youth of about twenty years, whose hand- 
some, classic face, as he laid before us breathing out his 
life, has never passed from the memory of the writer. 
He was a Hungarian, finely educated, and with the enthu- 
siasm of youth had sought and obtained a position on staff' 
duty to obtain some practical experience of war. He was 
a fine engineer, thoroughly acquainted with the topogra- 
phy of the country, and a great loss on that account. His 
foolhardiness cut off a promising career. 

Another incident is remembered : During the hottest 
of the fight, amid the screaming of shells and the rattle of 
musketry, a bird perched in a tree over our heads, and for 
quite a long time sung vigorously, as if to try and drown 
the unwelcome din that had come to disturb its haunts. 
In the quiet of the truce the mournful note of the "turtle 
dove" could be heard and it seemed a sort of requiem 
over the rude graves of our buried boys. 

No sooner had the hour of 7 o'clock arrived, when 
down came the white flags and firing was resumed more 
fiercely than ever and continued until dark. Just before 
night the regiment was ordered to a position about one- 
fourth of a mile to the right in a ravine. Here we re- 
mained three days, constantly exposed to shells, but only 


suffered one casualty during this time. We were in sup- 
port of a battery of heavy Parrot guns, which had just 
been got in position commanding an angle of the rebel 
works, with which we dismounted one of the enemy's 
large guns at the third shot. 

On one of these days General Banks and staff came 
out to reconnoitre the position. With them was Colonel 
Charles P. Stone, who had lately joined Banks' staff, after 
a long, and it is now believed unjust, suspension from 
duty, and for a portion of the time imprisonment, on ac- 
count of alleged complicity with the rebels in the affair at 
Balls Bluff. His meeting with Colonel Kimball, whom 
he had known intimately in the Army of the Potomac, 
was an occasion of genuine pleasure to both. 

On the first of June, the regiment was moved one- 
quarter of a mile to the left and more to the front, reliev- 
ing the Fourth Wisconsin Regiment, occupying rifle pits. 
The movement was made during the night, the position 
being a very exposed one. We were within speaking dis- 
tance of the enemy in their earthworks. It was dangerous 
for either party to expose any portion of the body to the 
watchful eyes of the other. There the men lay in the 
pits, which were topped out with logs or fence rails, pro- 
tected by little breastworks of bags of sand with apertures 
between, large enough to look through and to pass a rifle 
into to fire. They would watch as closely as a cat for its 
prey, for the slightest appearance of a form, which would 
be instantly fired at, and when their forms could not be 
seen firing at the flash or smoke of each others guns was 


in order. But few casualties occurred here, though it 
would sometimes happen that a bullet would come in 
through the small apertures and kill or wound a man. 
Immediately in our rear on the hill-side was located the 
First Maine Battery, which kept up a shelling of the 
works at intervals during the day, and the night as well. 
But we sleep through it all as well as though everything 
was quiet. How strange that we can so soon become ac- 
customed to all the hardships and vicissitudes of war. 
For weeks we have slept upon the ground with nothing 
under us but our rubber blankets and usually nothing over 
us but the sky. We are getting very ragged and very 
dirty. Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and lice abound, all of 
which we are compelled constantly to tight, while we keep 
the rebels at bay. We make intimate acquaintance with 
creatures unfamiliar to us at the North. The beautiful, 
bright eyed, and sociable little lizards, are darting about 
and occasionally run across one's face at night to bring 
him suddenly out from a blissful dream of home, back to 
the stern realities of his campaign life. The "chameleon" 
which changes its color to that of the bark of the tree it 
lives on is another interesting creature. Owls are plenty 
and entertain us at night with their unmusical notes. 
Birds of rare plumage and charming song come at early 
dawn to mingle their "reveille " with the drummer's beat 
and the bugle's melodious note. Thus do the sights and 
sounds of nature mitigate and cheer to some degree the 
hardships of the situation. 

On the 4th of June at 9 P. M. we were relieved by the 


One Hundred and Fifty-ninth New York Regiment and 
reported to the brigade commander, and ordered to a 
position in the edge of a piece of woods on the Clinton 
road. On the 5th of June the regiment marched at 
4.30 A. M., as a portion of an expedition to Clinton 
twenty-seven miles distant. A force of the enemy had 
been concentrated at that point and were threatening our 
rear, and the object of this expedition was to engage and 
disperse them. Our force consisted of seven regiments, 
two batteries and two companies of cavalry. We started 
out with our eight companies, now reduced to about three 
hundred and twenty-five men. The march was a fearful 
one. The weather was torrid. On the first day we 
marched from 4.30 A. M. until about noon, then rested 
about two hours. Starting again at the hottest time of 
the day our route lay across a plain for a couple of miles, 
at the other side of which was a fine grove. We had 
nearly reached the desired shade and every man was ex- 
erting himself to the utmost to cover the distance, when 
suddenly near the head of the regiment a man fell uncon- 
scious upon the ground. As some of us fell out of the 
ranks to give him assistance, we cast a glance down the 
road and saw six or eight other groups, each gathered 
about one or more prostrate forms. It was sunstroke and 
it appeared that they all succumbed at about the same 
moment. Captain Ashley of Company G was one of the 
number. We bore them to the grove where we found a 
running brook and the most of them were soon relieved, 
but some were unable to go farther. The column was 
halted here for the rest of the day and the march was not 


resumed until evening. We marched a portion of the 
night and then bivouacked. 

June 6th ; we marched at 6 A. M. and proceeded four 
miles to the Amitie river, where we rested the remainder 
of the day and until midnight, when we marched for 
Clinton with a view of giving the enemy a surprise. As 
we were marching along this A. M. some of our "flank- 
ers" captured and brought in a fine lad, of about eighteen 
years of age, mounted upon a beautiful horse. He had 
evidently ventured out from curiosity, or perhaps had been 
sent out as a scout to report what he might discover. He 
was neatly dressed in citizen's clothes, very handsome, and 
thoroughly self-possessed. He was conducted to General 
Banks, who tried to elicit from him some information as to 
the force about Clinton, etc., but he was as dumb as a 
"sphinx" on that subject, though he was talkative on 
others, and he seemed to rather enjoy riding along by the 
general's side, who in turn also seemed pleased to have 
the handsome young "rebel" added temporarily to his 
staff. He, however, considered it wise to keep him until 
our movement was accomplished, and upon our return 
from Clinton he was allowed to go back to his home. 
The men were in good spirits and ready for what was 
before them. There was no straggling and we arrived at 
the outskirts of the town in good order. It was soon dis- 
covered, however, that the enemy had evacuated. This 
regiment with others was immediately ordered on the re- 
turn march and at n A. M. had reached its camping 
place of the previous evening near the river. But only 
about one-third of the number reached the point at this 


hour. The heat was intolerable, and the men no longer 
having the exciting prospect of a fight before them, had 
succumbed to the consequent reaction and had fallen out 
all along the road. But in the course of the afternoon 
they had all joined us and were ready to resume the 
march to Port Hudson the same evening. This was Sun- 
day, but there had been no rest for us on that account. 
We must move on, which we did at 6 P. M., and marched 
for Redwood Bayou where we bivouacked for the night. 
In the morning, it being the 8th of June, we marched 
at an early hour for Port Hudson and resumed our old 
camp at 10.30 A. M. Here the regiment remained at rest 
until the 13th, upon which clay a terrific bombardment of 
the works was opened and continued for two hours and it 
began to be evident that another blow was to be struck. 
In the afternoon of that day an order came down to join 
in an assault on the works by the division at 4 o'clock the 
next morning. This move had been for some time pre- 
paring and it was supposed to be well planned. 

Banks sent a note to General Gardner on the 13th, de- 
manding an unconditional surrender of the post. He 
complimented the commander and his garrison for their 
courage and fortitude and demanded the surrender in the 
name of humanity. He assured him of the overwhelm- 
ing force of the federals in men and cannon, and that 
Gardner's despatch to Johnston, telling of his straits and 
the danger of starvation, had been intercepted and the 
weakness of the post made known. 

The demand was at once refused, and the prepara- 
tions for the morrow's assault were completed. 


The following is the order for the disposition of the 
troops composing our division : 

Headquarters Third Division, 

Before Port Hudson, June 12, 1863. 

General Order No. 64. 

Column of attack. 
Eighth New Hampshire. ( Skirmishers.) Fourth Wisconsin. 

Intervals two paces. 

Five Companies Fourth Massachusetts and One Hundred and 
Tenth New York with hand grenades. 

Thirty-eighth Mass. (Skirmishers.) Fifty-third Mass. 

Intervals four paces. 
Four Companies Third Brigade with four hundred cotton bags. 

Third Brigade. 

Second Brigade. 

First Brigade. 

Fifty Pioneers to level parapet, for Artillery. 


|| Nims' Battery. || 


First — The hand grenade men carry their rifles on their backs, 
and carry each one grenade. They march three paces in rear of 
the line of skirmishers. Having thrown their grenades, they go 
in as skirmishers. 

Second The cotton-bag bearers march at the head of col- 
umn, two hundred paces in rear of skirmishers. They fill the 
ditch to company front. Having deposited their bags, they take 
arms and march at head of column. 

Third — The whole movement will be in quick time, no double 
quick. But in case the skirmishers encounter batteries, which 
they can take by double quick advance, they will move in that 

Fourth — The skirmishers will clamber upon the parapet, fol- 
lowed by the hand grenades, which will be thrown over into the 
works as soon as the skirmishers are on the outer edge of the 
parapet. The skirmishers will then rush in and gain ground for- 
ward, fighting lying down, etc., etc., according to circumstances. 

Fifth — As soon as the column is within the works, each 
brigade will form their line of battle and lie down until the 
artillery is brought up. unless circumstances should necessitate 
different orders. 


Eighth — The men will carry two clays' rations of hard bread 
in their haversacks, forty rounds of ammunition in their cartridge 
boxes, and twenty rounds in their pockets. Their knapsacks 
will be left in camp under guard of convalescents. 

By order of Brigadier-General Paine, 

[Signed] Georoe W. Durgin, Jr., A. A. A. G. 

The assault by our division was under the immediate 
direction of General Halbert E. Paine, who since we left 
Alexandria had been in command of the division. General 


Emory having been forced to retire on account of sick- 
ness. General Paine went into the service as colonel of 
the Fourth Wisconsin Volunteers at the opening of hos- 
tilities and had been promoted to brigadier-general. A 
braver man did not tread the battle fields of the rebellion. 
A more conscientious one never drew a sword. Witness 
the following incident which had happened one year pre- 
vious to this time: While at Baton Rouge, June, 1862, 
as colonel of his regiment, a number of slaves came into 
his camp, bringing valuable information, to whom he gave 
shelter and protection. Their masters demanded their re- 
turn, and General Williams commanding the post ordered 
their return. Upon receipt of the order Colonel Paine 
refused to obey it. He wrote in justification of his action, 
"The order of General Williams forces upon me an alter- 
native which is peculiarly painful, because to me obedi- 
ence to orders has always been in practice, as well as 
theory, a fundamental military maxim. I am compelled 
to disobey him, or defy the sovereign power of the Re- 
public. In this matter I cannot hesitate. No punishment, 
for disobedience to this order, can be as intolerable as the 
consciousness of having violated the law by compelling 
my guards to return to the vindictive rebels fugitives 
whose information has been sought and used for the 
benefit of our arms. While I have command of the 
Fourth Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers they cannot, 
with my consent, be employed in the violation of the law 
for the purpose of returning fugitive slaves." 

Colonel Paine was immediately ordered under arrest. 
The correspondence was read on parade, the regiment 


gave three cheers for the colonel and gathered about his 
quarters after parade when he came out and addressed 
them. This looked like rank insubordination, but he was 
afterwards sustained and restored to his command. It is 
related here to show what determination was in the man's 
character, to carry out, regardless of the consequences, 
that which he conscientiously believed to be his duty. 
These same qualities stood him in hand for the coming 
emergency, and when he decided to lead the assault in 
person, it meant that he would enter the works or fall in 
the attempt. We did not know that he was to lead us. 
In our previous fights we had not seen any general officer 
in a very exposed position and it was not a custom known 
in the department. So that his appearance before our 
regimental line, (after it had formed for the charge,) 
passing up and down, saying, as he walked, "Men, I want 
you to follow me right into those works," was an inspira- 

Deserters from the rebels continue to come in, seven- 
teen having come in a body on the 12th from an outpost 
they were guarding. They report a great lack of pro- 
visions in the garrison and the supply of meat had given 
out and General Gardner had ordered mules to be slain for 
food. It is said that "fricasseed rats" also formed a staple 
of their diet. 

Heavy guns had been mounted at all available points 
and it was said that there were three hundred in position. 
It was expected that in connection with a concentrated fire 
from these batteries, an assault of the works might be suc- 
cessfully carried. 


The Defenses of Port Hudson— The Assault of June 14th-Comments 
Upon the Same— The Day After the Battle— Dead and Wounded 
— The " Forlorn Hope." 

Port Hudson was undoubtedly the strongest position 
■by nature on the river, with perhaps the exception of 
Vicksburg. The village stood upon a high, precipitous 
bluff, and upon the edge of this bluff the "works" were 
constructed. The guns could be run out and pointed at 
any angle to strike the vessels, discharged and instantly 
run back out of the way of harm from shots from below. 
The position was practically impregnable from the river. 
As to the character of the defenses on the land side the 
following extracts from a letter* written by Banks to 
Grant on the 28th of May, after the failure of the first as- 
sault, will convey a good idea of them and also indicate 
his feeling of weakness in his position. He says : 

" The garrison of the enemy is five thousand or six thousand 
men. The works are what would ordinarily be styled ' impregna- 
ble.' They are surrounded by ravines, woods, valleys and bayous 
of the most intricate and labyrinthic character that make the 
works themselves almost inaccessible. It requires time even to 
understand the geography of the position. * * * * If it be 
possible I beg you to send me at least one brigade of four 
thousand or five thousand men. This will be of vital importance 
to us. We may have to abandon these operations without it." 

*Official Records, volume 24, page 353. 


The reinforcements were not sent and General Grant 
gives his reasons in his "Personal Memoirs," which will 
be quoted later. 

It was said, by one who had visited all points on our 
extended line, that no point presented less protection to an 
attacking party than the one selected for the assault of this 
column. At all other points hills and ravines, covered 
with brushwood and stumps, afforded a covering to skir- 
mishers, but here there was nothing of the kind. The 
ground in places was slightly depressed, but every hollow 
which would have afforded any protection to a body of 
men approaching was completely enfiladed. 

Sunday morning came and at 3 A. M. the regiment 
moved quietly to its position for the assault. The general 
order which had been read to the men the afternoon before 
made them familiar with the duty to be required of them. 
They had gathered in groups and discussed the probabili- 
ties of the results. Many of them had written their last 
brief messages home, or their final entries in their private 
journals. They had laid themselves down and had a 
good sleep in spite of the dreadful prospect before them. 
And now the}' stood here in line of battle in rear of the 
Thirty-eighth Massachusetts Regiment and in support of 
the Eighth New Hampshire and Fourth Wisconsin de- 
ployed as skirmishers. 

The enemy had already discovered our movement and 
poured forth their fire, although it was not yet light, and 
were immediately answered by our guns and a most 
terrific cannonading was soon in progress at all parts ot 


the line. Our fleet on the river outside the town had also 
opened its fire. The bursting of the shells in the air and 
the dense clouds of smoke from the artillery gave a fearful 
aspect to the scene, as we stood there, in the dawning light 
of the morning, under fire, but protected somewhat by a 
thick hedge behind which we had formed. Casualties 
commence; Captain Stratton of Company C, in command 
of the left of our line, is shot through the head, the ball 
entering near his ear and coming out under his lett eye, 
but with characteristic pluck he walks off the field leaning 
upon the arm of the surgeon. The order finally comes 
from General Paine to go forward. With great steadiness 
the two regiments, the Thirty-eighth and the Fifty-third, 
move on in rear of the other two (deployed in skirmish 
line) over the open space, say five hundred yards, between 
us and the line of earthworks, which is somewhat ob- 
structed by fallen trees. The skirmishers gain ground as 
fast as circumstances will permit and our line of battle 
follows closely upon them. The firing is terrific, but we 
have succeeded in reaching a point within one hundred 
yards of the works. We had lost heavily but were not 
yet broken up. General Paine, still leading us, now gives 
the order for the four regiments "to charge forward and 
enter the works." The line sprang forward with alacrity, 
wildly cheering, and advancing at "double quick" close 
up to the works amid a most galling front and enfilading 

We supposed the fine programme laid down in the 
order for the assault was being executed, and that the 


Third, Second, and First Brigades were close- on our 
heels, and from very force of numbers we should press 
into the works and carry all before us. But we soon dis- 
covered that with the exception of the four regiments, no 
troops had crossed the fearful space and that we were 
alone just at the foot of the entrenchments, and that the 
assault had failed. Some of our men had actually en- 
tered the works and were captured. As our supports did 
not come up, no rally could be made for another charge, 
and we could only lie there, hugging the ground and 
protecting ourselves as well as we might from the heavy 
tiring still poured in upon us, through the entire day. 
Some of our best officers lay dead or wounded about us. 
General Paine, with a bullet through his leg, lay near the 
top of a little knoll in a very exposed position. Captain 
Washburn and Lieutenant Vose, both severely wounded, 
lay near him. A little farther on laid Lieutenant Glover, 
dead, and there they remained, as did all of us, through 
that terrible day, scarcely daring to move lest we draw the 
enemy's fire. It was useless to try to get off the wounded. 
Various attempts were made to get General Paine off the 
field or to get refreshment to him, and two gallant men 
lost their lives in the effort. Their names were E. P. 
Woods of Company E, Thirty-first Massachusetts, and 
John Williams of Company D, Thirty-first Massachusetts. 
S. N. Busnach of Company A, Thirty-eighth Massachu- 
setts, and two others were also wounded in an attempt to 
relieve him. and he finally begged them to make .no 
further efforts to get to him. Captain Washburn of Com- 
pany 1 laid so near him as to throw his canteen of water 


to him and to converse with him. As for the captain him- 
self, he told us that he was able cautiously to smoke a 
single cigar he had with him, and thought if he had taken 
along a half-dozen he would have got through the day 

very well. 

It should be stated here that during the afternoon, after 
the assault had proved hopeless, Colonel Kimball made 
his way to General Grover and suggested that a truce be 
asked for to get off our wounded, but the proposition was 
received with disdain. 

But this fateful day at last came to an end and the 
darkness enabled us to get out ourselves and to carry off 
our wounded. The assault which had been bravely under- 
taken, in obedience to orders, had proved a total failure. 

A simultaneous attack was supposed to have been 
made further to the right by General Weitzel's forces, com- 
posed of his own division and two regiments of Grover's 
division. But the attempt was a feeble one and amounted 
to nothing. If the attempt to carry these works had at 
any time any show of success it was when our four regi- 
ments, led by the gallant Paine, hurled themselves against 
the works, taking the brunt of the enemy's fire, thus 
enabling the brigades in the rear to follow en masse and 
complete the breach in the enemy's line where we had in- 
serted, as it were, the point of a wedge. 

The loss on this occasion was over seven hundred, 
mostly from General Paine's division, of which eighty-six 
were of our regiment out of about two hundred and eighty 
who went into action. Captain Mudge's Company F 


suffered the most of any. He went in with thirty-three 
men and all but eleven were killed, wounded, or missing. 

We lie down this night, almost sick at heart, with our 
suffering wounded near us being cared for as well as pos- 
sible by the surgeons and nurses. Some of the unburied 
soldiers we have brought off the field lie in the sleep of 
death close by their comrades who are sleeping the sleep 
oi exhaustion. If there ever comes a time of complete 
depression it is when one looks over an experience such 
as the last twenty-four hours has brought. All the hushed 
voices, all these gaping wounds, all the groans of the suf- 
fering and dying, all this grief for the true, the manly, 
and the accomplished comrades gone, and the more re- 
mote results to kindred and friends to follow ; and not one 
point gained toward the capture of this stronghold which 
it is becoming more and more evident can be reduced onlv 
by starvation. But we have taken up the occupation of 
soldiers and it is "ours to do and die"' in obedience to 

Colonel Kimball's bravery and efficiency was never 
better displayed on the field of battle than on this oc- 
casion. He was wounded in the thigh during the charge, 
but not so as to disable him. We were all proud that he 
should have been specially recommended for and received 
promotion to brevet brigadier-general for his gallantry 
upon this bloody field. 

While the general assault was ordered by General 
Banks, the plan of it was left to General Grover and is 
said to have been as follows : The main attack was to be 
made by Grover and Weitzel on the extreme northeasterly 


angle of the rebel works, while Generals Augur and 
Dwight should make a simultaneous attack on the left. 
A similar disposition was made for the troops on the right 
(Weitzel's division) as was indicated for our division in 
the above order, there being a line of skirmishers, hand 
grenade men, and cotton-bag bearers, with a support of 
three brigades, all under the command of General Birge. 
It was intended to have Weitzel's command effect a lodge- 
ment inside the rebel works and thus prepare a way for 
the operation of Paine's division. The movement of this 
column began at early dawn through a covered way 
which had been excavated within one hundred yards of 
the outer works, and as it emerged from the cover was 
met with a most determined resistance by the rebels, who 
were massed at that point, informed of, and prepared to 
receive the attack. This column was probably completely 
repulsed and demoralized before our column had fairly 
got underway, and gave the enemy time to mass at the 
angle of the works to which our attack was directed, in 
season to give us the very hot reception which resulted. 
Had the attacks of the two storming columns been exactly 
simultaneous the result might have been different, but per- 
fect co-operation and precision of movement is always 
hard to attain under such circumstances, and the proba- 
bilities of success were against us from the outset. 
Dwight's attack on the left, which was also to be made 
simultaneously, proved an utter failure, owing it is said to 
being misdirected by its guides. 

The day after the assault was occupied in burying 
such of our dead as we had brought off the field and 


taking account of our casualties. A temporary brigade 
Meld hospital was established in the woods, and the 
wounded were brought there, among them being Captains 
Washburn, Taft and Stratton, and Lieutenant Vose, and 
also Lieutenant Bond of the brigade staff, all terribly 
wounded, — all except Washburn then supposed to be mor- 
tally so. Arrangements are made during the day to send 
them down the river to New Orleans, and we sadly bid 
them farewell. Lieutenant Vose died on the steamer; 
Captain Taft died at New Orleans a few days later ; 
Captain Washburn died from the effect of his wound the 
next summer, and Captain Stratton and Lieutenant Bond 
recovered and are living to-day. 

Most of the dead were buried without ceremony, but 
Lieutenant Glover and Private Upham were buried to- 
gether just at sunset, with services conducted by Captain 
Ashley, just in the rear of our camp. Few except the 
officers attended. The men were discouraged, worn out, 
almost dazed with grief and disappointment, and perhaps 
hardened somewhat with the scenes through which they 
had passed, for nearly one-third of the number who 
marched to the assault the morning before are now num- 
bered among the "killed, wounded, and missing." During 
the day General Banks issues his famous order No. 49 for 
a "forlorn hope." It reads as follows : 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 

Nineteenth Army Corps, 
Before Port Hudson, La., June 15, 1863. 

General Order No. 49. 

The commanding general congratulates the troops before 
Port Hudson upon the steady advance made upon the enemy's 


works, and is confident of an immediate and triumphant issue of 
the contest. We are at all points upon the threshold of his forti- 
fications. One more advance and they are ours. 

For the last duty that victory imposes, the commanding gen- 
eral summons the bold men of the corps to the organization of a 
storming column of a thousand men to vindicate the flag of the 
Union and the memory of its defenders who have fallen. Let 
them come forward. 

Officers who lead the column of victory in this last assault 
may be assured of a just recognition of their services by promo- 
tion, and every officer and soldier who shares its perils and its 
glories, will receive a medal to commemorate the first grand 
success of the campaign of 1863 for the freedom of the Missis- 
sippi. His name will be placed in general orders on the Roll of 

Division officers will at once report the names of officers and 
men who may volunteer for this service in order that the organi- 
zation of the column may proceed without delay. 

By command of 

Major-Genkral Banks. 
Richard B. Irwin, Assistant Adjutant- General. 

This order awoke no enthusiasm in this regiment and 
elicited much unfavorable criticism amon£f the officers. 
We had been there already, and with three other regi- 
ments, led by our gallant General Paine, had made the 
desperate charge quite up to and over the formidable 
works and had been badly cut to pieces. We had indeed 
been a "forlorn hope." We had seen the utter futility of 
another attempt of the same sort and no effort was made 
on the part of the officers to induce* the men to join, and 
they certainly showed no disposition to do so. Two only 


oi the whole regiment volunteered and they deserve hon- 
orable mention here. Their names are Peter F. Downs 
of Company G and Peter Dyar of Company H. About 
nine hundred all told from the entire army corps enlisted 
for the perilous duty. 

On the 30th of June, in view of the assault soon to be 
made, a large number of the officers and soldiers were as- 
sembled near General Banks' headquarters and he ad- 
dressed them in substance as follows : 

"Soldiers! As I look in your faces I read suffering; I see 
marks of trial; and yet I see determination — patience! No 
soldiers ever had a nobler record than those who compose the 
Army of the Gulf. Beginning with nothing, it has created itself, 
until it is far superior in power to any army of its size in the 
United States. Vou have actually marched more than five 
hundred miles, scattered the enemy to the winds wherever you 
have found him; utterly destroyed his army and navy, and now 
you hold him captive for the last and greatest triumph. Never 
were you called to nobler duty than that now resting upon you ! 

" Open the Mississippi river, give joy to the country and re- 
ceive shouts of joy such as have never been borne to any branch 
of the Union army, and the reward God ever gives to those who 
go forth to defend their country's rights. 

" A little more than a month ago you found the enemy in the 
open country far away from these scenes. Now he is hemmed in 
and surrounded. A few days ago we could neither see bastion, 
parapet or citadel. Now all is changed ! Our guns range all 
over the works. We stand here and look over at the enemy face 
to face. It was when we were at a distance, when we had to 
cover the labyrinth of ravine, hill and bayou that our brothers 
fell in large numbers. Our position is one now of perfect safety 
in contest. Look about you; right, left, front or rear, our flag is 
on the threshold of his works. What remains is, to close upon 


him and secure him within our grasp. We want the close hug! 
When you get an enemy's head under your arm, you can pound 
him at your will. Let us go in then and he can never beat us 
back. The hug he will never recover from until the Devil, the 
arch rebel, gives him his own ! 

"All about me I see written determination, — will, — courage, — 
that will conquer! and who doesn't know that our cause is the 
best under the sun ? Whenever the tidings of our triumph goes 
North, you will hear a shout such as you never heard. We hear 
that the rebel army is moving North from Virginia, spreading out 
into the borders of the states beyond the Potomac. This will 
necessarily depress those at home. But how will their hearts be 
cheered and how will they shower their blessings upon you when 
they hear the news of your triumph. Your names will be en- 
tered upon the archives of your country — art will perpetuate your 

" This siege, — the coming struggle and victory, — all will be 
carried down to posterity. Their pride will be that their friends 
were present at the conflict that results in the opening of the 
Mississippi ! 

"You deserve rest I you have earned it; but I must ask you 
with power and force to finish the work you commenced April 
ist, at Berwick. Make a record for yourselves and children, and 
then take the rest you have earned. I have come to ask you to 
prepare yourself for the last great struggle. Go forward with an 
ordinary exhibition of spirit and strength, and victory is yours. 
The enemy of your country will be your captive. Your flag will 
wave over the battlements of Port Hudson. Open the Missis- 
sippi river, and the rebellion is at an end. Your fathers, mothers, 
sisters, all will hail the news with delight and bless you forever. 

" You have suffered deprivations, you have made great sacri- 
fices ; but after it comes glory, and after glory, rest ! Buckle on 
the armor then, make this one more great exertion. I assure 
you, in the name of the president of the United States, that you 
can confer a favor no greater upon your country than this ! No 


appeal that I can make can express the importance of this move- 
ment. Give us one more effort and we will whip the enemy until 
desolation shall leave him as naked as the vulgar air." 

The story of the organization as told by another is as 
follows : 

"The volunteers were put into camp by themselves and 
drilled in the 'charge,' etc., and July 4th, 1863, was settled upon 
as the day for the final assault. Generals Banks, Weitzel, 
Grover, Granger, Emory, staff officers, and colonels and officers 
of the several regiments, visit the camp of the Forlorn Hope on 
the 3d of July, and take messages for dear ones at home and bid 
their old comrades a final and sorrowful farewell, for who was 
there from among them who ever expected to see a member of 
that little band alive after the assault. The command is drawn 
up into line and General Banks addressed them, ending with 
suggesting that after they are dismissed they go to their tents 
and write messages and letters to their loved ones at home, 
which is done, and the chaplain takes the mail, and with orders 
to turn out at the sound of the muffled long roll, the boys of the 
Forlorn Hope go to their tents to try and rest. 

"It was the intention to charge at daybreak of the Fourth of 
July and to eat breakfast inside the rebel works. So when the 
long roll sounded at half-past two in the morning, each member, 
with courage undaunted and a look of determination upon his 
countenance, silently took his place in line. Soon General 
Banks and staff appear in the front, and who can forget who saw 
the smile and relieved expression upon his face at the time when 
there, sitting soldierly and proud upon his horse, with hat in 
hand, he rode along the line and back, halted, and saluting, read 
a despatch from General Grant, stating that Vicksburg was about 
to surrender and that he would send him reinforcements. Con- 
sequently the contemplated attack at this time was delayed, and 
when General Gardner, commanding the rebel forces at Port 
Hudson, heard of the fall of Vicksburg, he, on July 8th, 1863, 
sent out a flag of truce and surrendered his entire command to 


General Banks, and the Mississippi river was open and the back- 
bone of the rebellion was broken, and now the " Forlorn Hope " 
received the honor of marching into the rebel stronghold to 
receive the surrender. 

" Pioneers were sent forward to open a passage and to batter 
down their breastworks, and, led by the Thirteenth Connecticut 
band, accompanied by two other regimental bands, with twelve 
Union flags flying in the breeze, the column of stormers marched 
through the rebel works, the bands playing on the route 'The 
Last Rose of Summer,' 'Yankee Doodle,' and the ' Star Spangled 
Banner,' with the Union forces of the Nineteenth Army Corps 
cheering along the line. 

" It was, indeed, a sight never to be forgotten. Thus ended 
one of the most important and interesting events of the war of 
the rebellion." 

It was providential that the assault did not take place, 
but they deserved the honor of marching first into the 
stronghold of the enemy to receive the surrender, and per- 
haps should receive the medals which were promised 
them, and for which an effort is now being made in Con- 
gress. But this does not change the fact that the order 
was ill advised and the attempt would have been one of 
the most foolhardy experiments of the war. This opinion 
was freely expressed then, and a quarter of a century has 
only strengthened it. We who had once been over the 
ground, as well as those who examined the works after 
the surrender, know full well that it could not have suc- 
ceeded and that the result would probably have been a 
fearful slaughter and the affair of Fort Butler, elsewhere 
related in this history, reversed for us. In fact the several 
desperate assaults made upon the works at Port Hudson 


were mistakes. We had the enemy thoroughly " bottled 
up" from the 25th of May. lie could not get out and he 
could get no provisions in, and there was no force any- 
where in the state which could be brought to raise the 
siege. We had only to sit down and wait and the strong- 
hold must come into our hands in a few weeks. Some 
writers have endeavored to find excuses for General Banks 
and his counsellors for ordering the assault of June 14th, 
and the proposed charge of the "forlorn hope," by stating 
that a large portion of the command was made up of nine 
months men whose term of service was about to expire, 
and their leaving would have weakened him so much that 
he would have been obliged to raise the siege and retire to 
New Orleans, which it was true was being threatened by 
an inconsiderable force of the enemy. But the nine 
months regiments would not have deserted him, and in 
fact several of them did serve several weeks after their 
time was out after the surrender. This regiment actually 
served nearly eleven months. Some of them whose time 
had expired before the surrender actually volunteered for 
some weeks longer, and received the thanks of General 
Banks in a general order. And it is a fact of history that 
General Gardner, who commanded at Port Hudson, said 
that his surrender on the 8th of July was not in conse- 
quence of the surrender of Vicksburg on the 4th, that a 
few more days would have brought it if that event had not 
taken place. 

How General Grant viewed the situation may be judged 
from the following- extract from his "Personal Memoirs :"* 

^Volume 1, page 544. 


I 49 

"On the 26th of May I received a letter from General Banks 
asking me to reinforce him with ten thousand men. Of course I 
did not comply with his request nor did I think he needed them. 
He was in no danger of attack by the garrison in his front and 
there was no army organizing in his rear to raise the siege." 

But General Grant wrote a letter* immediately after 
the surrender which shows that he was willing to give full 
credit to General Banks and his army for what had been 
accomplished. It is as follows : 

" It is with pleasure I congratulate you upon your removal of 
the last obstacle to the free navigation of the Mississippi. This 
will prove a death to " Copperheadism " in the Northwest, besides 
serving to demoralize the enemy. Like arming the negroes, it 
will act as a two edged sword cutting both ways." 

It may seem ungracious at this late day to criticise Our 
commanding officers, but the facts of history must be out- 
spoken and better now than then, since time has mitigated 
somewhat the immediate grief which dire disaster then 
evoked. It was inevitable that many errors of judgment 
and action should occur in the stupendous struggle we 
were engaged in, and General Banks' "councils of war" 
were not the only ones which were open to the charge. 
How these whole four years of war are written over with 
them ! But in view of the "final glorious consummation" 
they should be lightly dealt with and those responsible for 
them should not be judged criminally negligent or wan- 
tonly rash. 

''Official Records, volume 24, page 499. 


News from Vicksburg— Surrender of Port Hudson— Official Corre- 
spondence—Final Ceremonies— Colonel Kimball's Official Report 
—Incidents of the Siege— Biographical Notices. 

The account* of the official surrender of Port Hudson, 
from the pen of Colonel R. B. Irwin, General Banks' ad- 
jutant-general, has the following : 

"At last on the 7th of July, when the saphead was within 
sixteen feet of the ' priest cap ' and a storming party of one 
thousand volunteers had been organized, led by the intrepid 
Kirge, and all preparations had been made for springing two 
heavily charged mines, word came from Grant that Vicksburg 
had surrendered. Instantly an aide was sent to the 'general-of- 
the-trenches ' bearing duplicates in 'flimsy' of a note from the 
adjutant bearing the good news. One of these he was directed 
to toss into the Confederate lines. Some one acknowledged the 
receipt by calling back, 'That's another damned Yankee lie.' 
( )nce more the cheers of the men rung out, as the word passed, 
and again the forest echoed with the strains of the ' Star Spangled 
Banner ' from the long silent bands. Firing died away, the men 
began to mingle in spite of everything, and at about 2 o'clock the 
next morning came the long gray envelope that meant surrender:' 

This note and the succeeding correspondence are here 
given : 

Headquarters Port Hudson, La., July 7, 1863. 
General : — Having received information from your troops that 
Vicksburg has been surrendered I make this communication to ask 
you to give me your official notice whether this is true or not ; 

*From "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War," volume 3, page 597. 


and if true I ask for a cessation of hostilities with a view to the 
consideration of terms for surrendering this position. 

I am, General, very respectfully your obedient servant, 

Frank Gardner, 

Major- General Commanding Confederate States Forces. 

To Major-General Banks, 

Commanding United States Forces Near Port Hudson. 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 

Before Port Hudson, July 8, 1863. 
General : — In reply to your communication dated the 7th 
instant, by Hag of truce received a few moments since, I have 
the honor to inform you that I received yesterday morning, July 
7th, at forty-five minutes past 10 o'clock, by the gunboat General 
Price, an official despatch from Major-General Ulysses S. Grant, 
United States Army, whereof the following is a true extract : 

Headquarters Department of the Tennessee, 

Near Vicksburo, July 4, 1863. 
Major-General N. P. Banks, 

Commanding Department of the Gulf. 
General : — The garrison of Vicksburg surrendered this morn- 
ing. The number of prisoners as given by the officers is twenty- 
seven thousand ; field artillery, one hundred and twenty-eight 
pieces; and a large number of siege guns, probably not less than 
eighty. Your obedient servant, 

U. S. Grant, Major-General. 

1 regret to say that under present circumstances 1 cannot 
consistently with my duty consent to a cessation of hostilities for 
the purposes you indicate. 

Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

N. P. Banks, Major-General Commanding. 

To Major-General Frank Gardner, 

Commanding Confederate States Forces, Fort Hudson. 


Port Hudson, July S, 1863. 

General: — ] have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of 
your communication of this date, giving a copy of an official 
communication from Major-General U. S. Grant, United States 
Army, announcing the surrender of the garrison of Vicksburg. 

Having defended this position as long as d deem my duty re- 
quires I am willing to surrender to you, and will appoint a com- 
mission of three officers to meet a similar commission appointed 
by yourself, at <) o'clock this morning, for the purpose of agreeing 
upon and drawing up the terms of surrender: and for that 
purpose I ask a cessation of hostilities. 

Will you please designate a point, outside of my breastworks, 
where the meeting shall be held for this purpose ? 

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant. 
Frank Gardner, 
Commanding Confederate States Forces. 

To Major-General Hanks, 

Commanding United States Forces. 

Headquarters United States Forces, 
Befokk Port Hudson, July 8. 1863. 

General : — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of 
your communication of this date stating that you are willing to 
surrender the garrison under your command to the forces under 
my command, and that you will appoint a commission of three 
officers to meet a similar commission appointed by me, at 9 
o'clock this morning, for the purpose of agreeing upon and 
drawing up the terms of surrender. 

In reply I have the honor to state that 1 have designated 
Brigadier-General Charles P. Stone, Colonel Henry W. P.irge and 
Lieutenant-Colonel Richard B. Irwin as the officers to meet the 
commission appointed by you. 

They will meet your officers at the hour designated at a point 
where the flag of truce was received this morning. I will direct 


that active hostilities shall instantly cease on my part until 
further notice for the purpose stated. 

Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

N. P. Banks, Major- General Commanding. 

To Major-Gen eral Frank Gardner, 

Commanding Confederate States Forces, Fort Hudson. 

The formal surrender of Port Hudson took place July 
9th as indicated by the foregoing correspondence. 

It would have been a great satisfaction to the regiment 
to have marched in and witnessed the ceremonies, and it 
would have seemed very fitting that the regiments which 
led the assault of the 14th of June should have been given 
the same honor as was accorded the "forlorn hope" that 
was to be if the surrender had not come, and allowed to 
march in over the works they had tried so hard to breach. 

As the writer of this history was not present he is glad 
to avail himself of a description of the scene as it was 
penned at the time by our chaplain, who was an eye wit- 
ness. It is as follows : 

"About. 7 A. M., July 9th, our column began to move up the 
Port Hudson and Jackson road for the fortifications. As they 
passed the sallyport, the band struck up that time-honored air of 
Yankee Doodle. Depend upon it, all felt that to be called a 
Yankee just at this time was no derision whatever. We were all 

" As we passed up into the town, upon the heights, sights of 
destruction such as war alone can produce, met our observation. 
Scarce a house, shop or building, of any description, can be dis- 
covered that has not been riddled or levelled by the 'unerring 
shots' of our artillerists, who are, say the rebels, 'unequalled.* 



The sides of the hills, the hollows and the plains, are dotted with 
the dead carcasses of horses and mules which have been killed 
by sharpshooters and shells. From them a stench arises which 
is by no means wholesome. Here and there a grave of some 
misguided brave is seen; again, the new turned earth, by its 
length and breadth, assures us that 'heaps of the slain,' lie 
crowded in their platooned graves. Deep furrows along the sand 
and clay trace the track of the swiftly hurled ball that wrought 
ere its course was stopped, fearful death and desolation. In one 
instance we noticed that a round shot, thrown from one of our 
batteries, distant three-fourths of a mile, had passed completely 
through an out house, the back door of the dwelling, along the 
floor of the entry, tearing up the boards, through the partition, 
out of the front of the house, cutting down a tree of no mean 
dimensions, and finally burying itself in the earth. Numerous 
were the trees of different sizes that were felled by the missiles 
which our cannoniers hurled so surely at the besieged. 

" But 1 cannot particularize, for I have only time to write 
out the fact of the surrender, which, added to the achievement 
at Vicksburg, will send an electric thrill through every loyal 

"At 9.35 A. M., a short consultation occurred between 
General Beals, (second in command at Port Hudson,) and General 
Andrews, (General Banks' chief of staff,) when the order was 
given by General Beals to the waiting thousands of his command 
— 'attention' — 'ground arms,' — the motley line of late belliger- 
ents stood defenceless before us. The officers, by the terms 
agreed to, were allowed their side arms. While a short confer- 
ence was again held, the 'jolly tars' from our gunboats, that 
have long kept watch by day and night over the ' contumacious 
stronghold ' — erected a flag-staff upon the very spot where the 
rebels had flaunted their 'stars and bars' which had been shot 
away by the skilful gunners of the fleet. Upon this flag-staff the 
glorious stars and stripes were thrown to the breeze at 10 A. M., 
amid the salvos of artillery ! Triumph was complete ! To us it 
belongs ! Long will the inspiration of the hour be remembered. 


Transports had already steamed up to the landing to take the 
prisoners away to— I cannot tell where. Whether they are to be 
paroled or not has not been made patent. 

"The importance of the twin surrenders to the nation I will 
not at this time enlarge upon. All must feel it, acknowledge it. 
Joy will accompany the news, rejoicing follow its spreading. 
While we felt that we were giving a hope to the anxious ones at 
home ; while we were jubilant over the great, final effort, and be- 
lieved that we had done the state some service, our hearts were 
more than full when we heard of the safety, and saw the coming 
of two of our most noble comrades— the brave brothers Hicks. 
To us they had been more than dead; we had pictured their 
sufferings amid the heat of sun and battle, we had feared their 
worse than torture, and placed them among the cruelly sacrificed ; 
but they have returned to us, the saved of the Lord. It is 
impossible to describe the gratitude we felt as they came into our 
camp. Captain Mudge, who sets a proper estimate on all of his 
men, was the happiest one of all when he greeted the returned 
braves. Levi C. and Forrest A. Hicks, were reported in the list 
of killed and wounded on the 14th of June, as missing and sup- 
posed to be killed. The already grief-stricken father and mother, 
will be made to rejoice when they hear of the safety of their 
noble sons. They were taken prisoners on the day of the as- 
sault, June 14th, and were exchanged immediately on the signing 
of the terms of surrender." 

The following is the official report of the operations of 
the Fifty-third Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, in the 
movement upon Port Hudson, from May 23d to July 8th, 
Captain E. H. Fordham, A. A. A. G. 

Sir: I have the honor to report the doings of my command 

in the movement upon Port Hudson from the 23d of May to the 
8th of July. The regiment arrived before Port Hudson on Satur- 
day, May 23d, having eight companies present with about four 


hundred men. May 24th, at 9.30 A. M., I received orders from 
Captain Fordham to put my command in readiness for immediate 
march. At 10 A. M. moved with the brigade towards Port 
Hudson, being then about four miles from that point. After pro- 
ceeding about one and a half miles my regiment was detached 
from the brigade and was ordered to report to Brigadier-General 
Paine for duty as a guard to the corps of engineers. Moved to 
the head of the column and proceeded about one-half mile into 
the woods where we encountered the skirmishers of the enemy at 
a ravine where a bridge was to be built. Skirmishers were 
thrown out on the front and flanks, and moved steadily forward. 
A few shots were exchanged, when the enemy retired across the 
creek and to the crest of the hill just beyond. Captain Stratton 
with his company was now ordered to deploy and move forward 
under cover of the line of skirmishers to the top of the hill be- 
yond the creek, about three hundred yards, which was promptly 
done, the enemy firing and immediately retiring. The engineers 
having examined the position and ground beyond decided to 
abandon it for another route. I was ordered at 2.30 o'clock to 
another position about one mile farther up the ravine to a point 
where the road crosses it. Arriving at this point, I sent Company 
G to the top of the hill about thirty rods beyond the ravine to 
keep a lookout upon the plain beyond, and also disposed my 
other companies so as to command the approaches to our position 
on the brook. At about 6 P. M. the major-general commanding, 
with his staff, having rode through our lines to the front, and 
being fired upon by the enemy's skirmishers, the whole regiment 
was immediately ordered forward and proceeded to the top of 
the hill ; there being no further demonstration by the enemy it 
was immediately ordered back to its old position, and I received 
orders from General Paine to hold it during the night, protecting 
the working party upon the road. To do this ( being at a dis- 
tance from any support ) I Avas obliged to throw out five compa- 
nies as a picket guard for the night. Nothing of note occurred, 
however, the night being very quiet. In the morning, at about 8 
o'clock, I was ordered to join the brigade and immediately did 


so. At 1 P. M. the regiment marched with the brigade ; moved 
forward over the ground we occupied the night before ; proceeded 
about one mile to the edge of the woods, when I placed my regi- 
ment in line of battle on the left of the Thirty-first Massachusetts 
and in support of the Ninety-first New York, then skirmishing in 
advance, with orders to be governed in my movements by the 
movements of the same. A steady advance was made during 
the afternoon and until dark, when I was ordered to the front to 
relieve the Ninety-first New York. Arriving at their position I 
found that their skirmishers had been drawn in ; I proceeded, 
however, to deploy six companies of my regiment upon the same 
ground they had occupied, as nearly as the information I could 
obtain and the darkness of the night would admit, the left of my 
line, as it afterwards proved, being considerably in advance of 
their old positions. Soon after getting into position a brisk fire 
was opened upon us by the enemy concealed behind an abatis. 
The fire was immediately returned by the One Hundred and 
Seventy-third and One Hundred and Seventy-fourth New York 
Regiments in our rear, thus bringing us between two fires. It 
was at this time that Captain Bailey of Company A and a private 
of Company F fell mortally wounded. This lasted but a few 
moments, when quiet was restored, and our line was unbroken. 
There was no further disturbance during the night. In the 
morning I received orders not to advance upon the enemy, but 
simply hold the position. Soon after daylight a body of the 
enemy was seen approaching our left. They were allowed to ap- 
proach to within a few yards of our line when fire was opened 
upon them, causing them to beat a hasty retreat. At 9 A. M. 
was relieved by the One Hundred and Thirty-first New York and 
by order of Captain Fordham retired to the edge of the woods 
and rested through the day and following night. 

Wednesday, May 27th; the regiment was ordered forward at 
5.30 A. M. and moved in line of battle about a hundred yards 
towards the front. After remaining in that position about one- 
half hour was ordered by Captain Fordham to move forward " by 
the right of companies to the front " following the Thirty-eighth 


Massachusetts. Proceeding in this manner about one-quarter of 
a mile the brigade line was then formed and moved steadily 
forward about one hundred rods to a point near the edge of the 
woods, where our batteries were engaging the enemy, when the 
line was halted. After remaining in this position a short time, 
the rest of the brigade having been ordered to other points, 1 
was ordered by General Paine to remain there and support the 
First Maine and Bainbridge's United States Batteries. We lay 
in this position two hours, exposed to a heavy fire of shot and 
shell from the enemy, when I was ordered by Colonel Gooding to 
move forward to the front line of skirmishers and report to 
Colonel Van Zant for the purpose of relieving a regiment then 
engaged with the enemy. The movement was rapidly executed 
and upon arriving and reporting as directed was ordered by 
Colonel Van Zant to relieve the Ninety-first New York, which 
held the brow of the hill, within sixty yards of the enemy's 
works into which he had already been driven. I placed my men 
in position with orders not to fire except they could see the 
enemy within range. My orders from Colonel Van Zant were to 
hold that position until further orders, and I received no other 
order during the day. Constant firing was kept up through the 
day, with quite a number of casualties, but ceased at dark. 

At about 2 o'clock Thursday morning firing was again opened 
on the right, which extended to our front, and for a few moments 
was quite brisk. A portion of the Ninety-first and One Hundred 
and Thirty-first New York Regiments lying in our rear returned a 
volley, a part of which took effect in my regiment, wounding 
several of my men ; quiet was at last restored and continued 
until morning when firing was again opened upon both sides, 
continuing through the day, except during the time when a 
suspension of hostilities was ordered. At 5 o'clock was ordered 
by Colonel Van Zant, to report to Colonel Gooding, one-fourth 
mile to the right, which I immediately did and took position in a 
ravine in the woods in front of the enemy's works. The number 
of men in this action was three hundred and seventy-seven. 
Our loss up to this time was about thirty, which will appear in 


my list of casualties. Remained here during the 29th, 30th, and 
31st, during which time the regiment was engaged in picket duty 
and work upon fortifications. 

On the first of June at 10 A. M. was ordered to the front to 
relieve the Fourth Wisconsin, then occupying rifle pits. Report- 
ing at once to General Paine, was ordered by him to take position 
near the edge of the woods until dark, the exposed position ren- 
dering it very hazardous to attempt to relieve by daylight. At 
dark moved forward to the position, which we held until 8 P. M., 
June 4th, engaging the enemy's sharpshooters and suffering quite 
a number of casualties, which will appear in a list appended to 
this report. At 8 P. M., June 4th, was relieved by the One Hun- 
dred and Fifty-ninth New York and reported, according to orders 
received from Captain Allen of General Paine's staff, to Colonel 
Gooding near the Jackson road, where we bivouacked for the 

At 4.30 A. M., on the 5th of June, marched with the brigade 
towards Clinton ; proceeded this day about fourteen miles, halt- 
ing through the heat of the day ; several cases of sunstroke 
occurred in the regiment during the day. 

June 6th ; marched at 6 A. M., proceeded about four miles to 
the Amitie river, where we bivouacked for the rest of the day. 

June 7th; marched at 12.30 A. M. for Clinton, arriving near 
that point at 4.30 A. M. when a return was ordered, which was 
accomplished with nothing of note occurring ; arriving before 
Port Hudson at 10.30 A. M., June 8th. Encamped in a piece of 
woods near the front and rested until the 14th. 

On the afternoon of the 13th received orders to be ready to 
move the next morning at 3 o'clock in an assault upon Port 
Hudson. At the time specified I was ordered by Colonel Good- 
ing to move up the road in rear of the Thirty-eighth Massachu- 
setts to the point of attack, and then deploy as skirmishers on 
the right of that regiment. During the march this order was 
countermanded by one from General Paine, directing me to de- 
ploy in rear of the Thirty-eighth Massachusetts at a distance of 
ten or fifteen paces. This last order was executed by deploying 


five companies, holding three in reserve. We were at this time 
under fire, though partially protected by a hedge behind which 
the deployment was made. At about 4.15 o'clock orders came to 
advance in quick time upon the enemy's works, supporting the 
Thirty-eighth who were following a line of skirmishers and hand 
grenaders. The men moved forward promptly and as they 
passed the hedge received a terrific volley from the enemy, who 
had been made aware of our approach by the loud cheering of 
the first line of skirmishers. They pressed steadily forward, 
keeping as good a line as the nature of the ground, ravines, and 
fallen trees, would admit, until the centre had reached to within 
twenty yards of the works, when we came upon the first line of 
skirmishers, who had been repulsed and were holding this posi- 
tion. I was here obliged to halt on account of the broken 
condition of my line, caused by the uneven state of the ground, 
and more particularly the halting of the Thirty-eighth Massachu- 
setts at some distance in my rear, which detained the right and 
left of my line. The right soon came up, passing the Thirty- 
eighth, whose commander had declined to move forward until he 
received further orders, though requested so to do by my 
adjutant who had command of the right of my line. I immedi- 
ately went to the left of my line to move it up, but found it 
utterly impossible so to do on account of the terrific fire from the 
enemy. At this juncture General Paine came up, and after ex- 
amination of the line gave the order to charge forward and enter 
the works. I immediately repeated the order to my regiment, 
which sprung forward with an alacrity and determination worthy 
of veterans, some of the men reaching the works and falling at 
the ditch, while others entered and were captured. At this time 
General Paine fell severely wounded, as also did many of my 
best officers. The fire of the enemy was now so terrible that it 
was impossible to advance the men under it, and we maintained 
our position close up to the works during the day, keeping up a 
fire upon the enemy, receiving no orders until about 10 P. M., 
when I was ordered to withdraw and return to my position of the 
morning, being the last regiment to leave the field. I was able to 



get off all of my wounded and the most of the dead. The suf- 
ferings of the men through this day were severe in the extreme- 
lying in the hot sun with no shelter, out of water and no chance 
of obtaining a supply, many of them lying in position where any 
attempt on their part to move would subject them to the well 
directed fire of the enemy's sharpshooters, rendered their position 
very critical. They uttered no word of complaint, but all, the 
wounded and the well, bore their trials with the fortitude of 
martyrs. My loss this day was very severe, especially in officers, 
as the official list will show. 

We remained at our old camp in the woods until the 19th at 
4 P. M., when I was ordered by Colonel Gooding to go to the 
front and relieve the Thirteenth Connecticut, who were support- 
ing Bainbridge's Battery, which position we held until the sur- 
render of Port Hudson on the 8th of July. 

In closing this report I would take occasion to speak of the 
conduct of my regiment during this protracted siege. Too 
much cannot be said in praise of both officers and men through 
all its trying scenes in the several engagements with which they 
were connected, and more especially on the occasion of the 
assault of the 14th, when, with unfaltering courage, they pressed 
forward to the charge, having one-third of their number stricken 
down. My line officers, without exception, were prompt in the 
execution of my orders, and exhibited an enthusiasm and deter- 
mination which inspired and encouraged the men to brave and 
gallant conduct, and testimony to this fact is shown in the loss of 
Captain Taft, and Lieutenants Vose and Glover, and the severe 
wounds of Captains Washburn, Stratton and Mudge. 

I desire particularly to call your attention to Adjutant Willis 
of my staff, who had command of the right of my line, ( which 
had been halted from causes before stated,) for the gallant 
manner in which he moved forward under a perfectly galling fire. 
The cool bravery exhibited by this officer in the performance of 
his duties, often exposing himself, ( though not rashly,) to the fire 
of the enemy, meets my heartiest commendation and I desire to 
recommend him for promotion. 


Accompanying this, I hand you a list of casualties during the 
siege in their proper order of dates. And have the honor to 
remain. Very truly your obedient servant, 

John W. Kimball, 

Colonel Fifty-third Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers. 

List of casualties in Fifty-third Regiment Massachusetts Vol- 
unteers, between May 25th and June 14th, inclusive : 

May 25th, Company A — Captain George H. Bailey, arm and 
side, mortal, died May 29th. 

June 14th, Company A — N. Kradlee Upham, killed. Company 
B — Francis F. Hemenway, shoulder, slight ; Color Corporal S. C. 
Hosmer, arm, slight. 

May 27th, Company C — H. T. Balcom, arm, badly; Edward 
Dever, face, slight; Edward Whitney, neck, badly; Edwin Palmer, 
back, slight ; Ira B. Foster, neck, slight. 

June 14th, Company C — Captain J. A. Stratton, head, severely ; 
Lieutenant A. R. Glover, killed ; Corporal C. A. Woodworth, 
throat, severe ; J. B. Allen, leg, slight ; A. J. Conant, face, slight ; 
James Carlan, wounded, missing ; Edmund O. Day, head, severe ; 
Edward Dever, shoulder, severe ; A. W. Johnson, leg, severe ; S. 
Gilpatrick, leg, slight. 

May 27th, Company D — J. P. Hildreth, arm, flesh wound; C. 
S. Champney, neck, flesh wound. 

May 30th, Company D — H. H. Whitney, cheek, flesh wound. 

June 2d, Company D — Sergeant H. P. Kilburn, killed ; Ser- 
geant S. A. Lawrence, face and neck, slight ; H. F. Green, arm 
and leg, slight. 

June 14th, Company D — Corporal D. S. Kimball, killed; W. 
S. Arlen, killed ; D. J. Sheehan, chest, arm and leg, serious ; J. 
C. Neat, arm, slight ; J. B. Blood, head, slight ; A. G. Stickney, 
finger shot off ; William S. Ordway, hand ; A. S. Graham, ankle, 
slight; H. C. Whitney, finger shot off; A. W. Fletcher, killed; 
I. W. Pierce, hip, slight. 


May 31st, Company E — Adin Oakes, back, slight ; 1). Walker, 

June 14th, Company E — W. T. Putnam, killed ; Corporal F. A. 
Stratton, contusion, shoulder; G. W. Morgan, finger shot off; H. 
H. Stratton, head, serious; J. A. Moore, head, slight; E. W. 
Cross, foot, slight ; Ozi Oliver, foot, slight; M. Falon, hip, slight. 

May 25th, Company F — W. Hinchcliffe, arm and breast, mor- 
tal, died May 29th. 

May 28th, Company F — D. W. Robinson, leg, amputated ; 
Charles Smith, face, dangerous; F. Sanderson, arm, slight. 

June 2d, Company F — W. Forbush, killed. 

June 14th, Company F — Corporal J. M. Jackson, killed; 
Corporal F. A. Hicks, missing; Corporal L. C. Hicks, missing; 
J. Hodges, killed ; M. L. Johnson, killed ; G. Knights, killed ; E. L. 
Robinson, killed; Captain J. G. Mudge, ear, slight; C. E. Ball, 
leg, amputated; G. R. Chaffee, serious; S. A. Chamberlain, 
hand, slight; W. B. Fessenden, shoulder, slight ; H. N. Heald, 
thigh, flesh wound ; N. W. Jameson, shoulder, slight ; S. T. Nye, 
side, slight ; L. Peters, side, slight ; P. Rogers, thigh, flesh wound ; 
L. Spooner, contusion, chest ; J. E. Townsend, thigh, flesh 
wound ; J. E. Wilder, hand ; A. Wheeler, arm, serious ; F. L. 
Sanderson, arm, amputated. 

May 25th, Company G — R. B. Baker, finger shot off. 

May 27th, Company G — R. Howe, head, slight; D. J. Crosby, 
head, slight; C. C. Merritt, head, slight. 

June 14th, Company G — Sergeant D. P. Stockwell, abdomen, 
severe ; G. W. Newton, arm, slight ; E. W. Greenwood, foot, 
slight; M. Coyle, knee, severe; J. Lynch, foot, slight; D. J. 
Crosby, foot, slight; H. McDonald, hand. 

June 3d, Company H — W. M. Flint, thigh, flesh wound. 

June 14th, Company H — Lieutenant R. Carruth, hip, slight; 
J. S. Rayner, Jr., leg, severe ; C. C. Brown, wrist, slight. 

May 25th, Company I — F. A. Munroe, leg. 

May 27th, Company I — J. M. Woodell, shoulder, serious; C. 
Hoffman, breast, serious ; J. B. Moore, head, slight ; T. W. Reid, 
face, slight. 


|une 14th, Company I — R. Whipple, killed; Captain E. R. 
Washburn, leg, severe; Lieutenant J. H. Vose, breast, mortal; 
Sergeant C. W. Moore, face, slight ; Corporal W. Wallace, leg, 
slight ; Corporal S. Frost, shoulder, slight ; Sergeant E. C. Whit- 
ney, arm, slight; T. W. Belcher, hand, slight; B. J. Edeman, 
breast, slight; H. C. Harriman, leg, slight; Robert Orr, head, 
serious ; P. Owens, back, serious ; T. W. Reid, leg, slight ; T. 
Roberts, hand, slight. Company A — Captain J. K. Taft, leg, 
amputated, mortal ; F. A. Alvord, shoulder, slight ; F. F. Farrar, 
arm, slight; J. H. Kendall, leg, severe; W. Wooldridge, side, mor- 
tal ; A. O. Hitchcock, eye, slight ; A. Robinson, finger shot off. 

Colonel J. W. Kimball was wounded June 14th, flesh wound 
in thigh ; Adjutant H. A. Willis, struck by spent ball in breast. 
May 25th, slight. 

Some incidents of the fight of the 14th may be men- 
tioned here : 

In the midst of the fight, in the early morning, a case 
of coolness in danger occurred which deserves mention. 
Private A. O. Hitchcock of Company A, (now Dr. Hitch- 
cock of Fitchburg,) was then acting as the colonel's ''or- 
derly." As such he was near him on the field during the 
charge and was struck in the right eye by a buck shot, 
which entered at the outer end of the eye and lodged just 
behind the bone which surrounds the eye. It gave him 
great pain, and Acting Sergeant-Major E. C. Whitney 
proposed to extract it. He seated Hitchcock on a stump, 
produced a large pin, and Colonel Kimball brought a 
jack-knife to bear upon it, and together they succeeded in 
prying out the uncomfortable missile. It was quickly 
done of course but it was amid the crashing of artillery 
and with the bullets flying thick about them, and the 


coolness of all the parties was somewhat remarkable. 
Hitchcock was then sent to the rear, somewhat against his 
will, and Whitney resumed his place in the line. 

Captain Corey of Company B was saved from death 
in a singular manner. He was with his company of 
pioneers, lying on the ground in an exposed position 
while the fire was the hottest, and was holding up the 
blade of his spade before his face, when a grape shot 
struck it, making a deep indentation but not passing 
through. The captain, as may be readily supposed, 
brought home the spade as a witness of his miraculous 
escape, which his family still preserves as a valuable relic. 

Mr. Giffin of Company C says, "I was at the side of 
Lieutenant Glover when he was shot and caught him in 
my arms as he fell, easing him to the ground. He said, 
'I am mortally wounded. Take my watch and if you 
live to get out of this send it to my wife with my love. ' 
He died in a very few minutes, and I took his watch and 
placed his sword under his body, which was taken off 
during the night." His faithful colored servant, Isaac 
Smith, packed his things in a valise and turned them over 
to the quartermaster, who sent them home to Mrs. Glover. 
The valise was rifled of the watch on the way, though his 
wallet with some blood stained money in it was left un- 
touched. This man Smith had been a slave near Baton 
Rouge, but he escaped from his master just after the battle 
of Baton Rouge in 1862. He was taken up by Mr. 
Glover at Carrollton, and some time afterwards while 


marching with the regiment through Baton Rouge, he- 
espied his old master on the sidewalk. They exchanged 
glances but no word of greeting escaped either of them. 
After Lieutenant Glover's death he was adopted by an- 
other officer, came home with us and has since lived in 
Leominster and Fitchburg as a good citizen. He regu- 
larly attends the reunions of the regiment. 

His history, recently obtained from him by the writer, 
may be briefly stated here, and affords a good illustration 
of the enormity of the institution of slavery as it existed 
before the war. He was born in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on 
the plantation of Thomas Rankin and knows nothing of 
his father. When a mere child he was sold by Rankin to 
Peter Warner of the same town, price not known. His 
mother was sold about the same time to a slave trader and 
taken south "for a market." He remembers his mother's 
going away, but as he says, "I was a small kid then and 
did not realize much about it." He never heard from her 
afterwards. When quite a boy he was again sold for six 
hundred dollars to Robert Smith, a "racer of horses," who 
took him South with him with a lot of horses. He re- 
mained with him some time and used to ride the horses in 
the races, in different parts of the country. He took his 
name from this man. After a time they brought up at 
New Orleans, and his master got "hard up" and had to 
sell him. This time he brought twelve hundred dollars, 
and was bought by Mr. De Planche, who lived about nine 
miles below Baton Rouge, from whom he escaped as 
above stated. He says he never knew his own age, but 


thinks he is about forty-seven. He is not aware that he 
has a single relative living at the South to-day. 

The following are brief biographical sketches of sev- 
eral of the officers who were killed or mortally wounded 
during the siege : 

Captain George H. Bailey was born in Townsend, Mass., 
November 30th, 1833, but moved to Fitchburg with his parents 
in 1843. He attended the public schools there for several years 
and then went to Holyoke, to learn the trade of machinist, but 
only remained one year there, returning to Fitchburg and finish- 
ing his trade with the Putnam Machine Company. He remained 
with this company until he went into the service with this 
regiment. He had for some years been a member of the Fitch- 
burg Fusiliers, and was first sergeant of the company, which 
position he held when the company went into the Fifty-third 
Regiment, and he was active in securing volunteers to fill up the 
company. He was elected Captain a few days before his death. 
He was a good officer, and much respected by the men, and his 
sudden taking off so soon after his promotion was a great grief 
to them. At home he was known as an upright, worthy and 
useful citizen, being very active in public matters, both of Church 
and State. He left a wife and a daughter about five years of 
age. His wife was the daughter of Abel Eaton, who was also 
in our regiment, being one of the drummer boys of Company B, 
aged at that time fifty-seven, and who is still living at the age of 
eighty-five and doing daily a hard day's work in the railroad shop 
at Fitchburg. 

Mrs. Bailey survived her husband about four years. 

Captain Jerome, Kimball Taft, was born in Detroit, Michi- 
gan, September 2d, 1831. His father died when he was thirteen 
years old, and his mother and himself, an only child, came to 
Fitchburg to reside with her sister, Mrs. Harriet Kimball. In 
1845 his mother died, and he continued to live with his uncle, 

1 68 


Captain Alpheus Kimball, until he entered the service of his 
country, October 17th, 1862. He served faithfully in Company 
A, Fifty-third Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, rising rapidly 
from a private to the rank of Captain. He was mortally wounded 
June 14th, 1863, while leading his men in the assault upon Port 
Hudson, La., and died from his wounds July 2d, at St. James 
Hospital at New Orleans. He was a genial companion, a 
faithful soldier, an officer loved and respected by all, a strict 
disciplinarian, yet kind in the discharge of the duties of his 
office, brave and courageous in battle, always ready to lead where 
duty called, and face all dangers with his men ; he fell in the 
front near the enemy's works, loved, honored, and sincerely 
mourned by all his comrades in arms. A singular fatality seemed 
to follow commanders of Company A ; three successive com- 
manders in three successive battles, and each one being in 
command for the first time under fire, were killed or received the 
wounds from which they died, and all three engagements occurred 
within the short space of sixty days. The writer believes that 
the whole history of the war does not furnish another such 

Lieutenant Alfred R. Glover, of Company C, was from 
Roxbury. He was born at Milton, Mass., in 1827, and was a 
lineal descendant of John Glover, of Dorchester, who came to 
America in the "William & Mary" in 1630. He was a Captain 
of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery, of London, before 
Coming to this country. Lieutenant Glover early desired a 
military education at West Point, but his family discouraged it. 
He became a member of the " New England Guards," and was 
one of its warrant officers for several years. Before the war he 
was a paper manufacturer. His home was at Vine Rock Cottage 
in Roxbury. When the call for troops came in 1862, he was 
prompt to respond, and exerted himself to raise volunteers. He 
brought a number to Company C, and was elected 1st Lieutenant 
of the Company, and proved an efficient officer, and one who 
always had the well-being of his men at heart. He was highly 


esteemed by his brother officers, and his death was deeply re- 
gretted. He was most thoroughly in earnest. His letters home 
breathed the spirit of deepest patriotism, and an intense hatred 
of rebellion. He married Mary L. Bodge, of Roxbury. She 
survived him only about a year and one-half, and, it is said, died 
of grief. He also left a son, Alfred K. Glover, two years old at 
the time of his father's death, who, after his mother's death, was 
adopted by E. R. Butler of New York, who brought him up. He 
was educated at Columbia College and Meadville Theological 
School, and is now a Unitarian clergyman at Grand Haven, Mich. 
He is a scientific student in Archaeology and in Chinese and 
Jewish History. Mr. Glover's remains were brought home late in 
1863, and he lies buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, Roxbury. 

Edward Richmond Washburn was born in Boston, June 2d, 
1836, and moved to Lancaster in 1838, where his childhood and 
youth were spent. He was educated at Lancaster Academy, and 
in 1853, at the age of seventeen, he entered mercantile life in 
Boston, where he remained until 1857, when he moved to Wor- 
cester and became Secretary of the Bay State Insurance Com- 
pany, which position he occupied at the outbreak of the rebellion. 
When the call for additional troops was made in 1862, he decided 
to enter the service, and aided in recruiting a company which was 
joined to the Fifty-third Regiment, and of which he was subse- 
quently elected captain. He was present with his company through 
the active campaign, and was severely wounded in the assault of 
the 14th June. He was sent home before the regiment had com- 
pleted its service, and in the fall of 1863 returned to his office in 
Worcester, but proposed as soon as his health was re-established 
to present himself again for service. But his health was never 
fully regained', and he continued in rather a delicate condition 
until August, 1864, when his wound again broke out, and the 
alarming indications of pyaemia at once appeared, and after ten 
days of intense suffering the end came to him in the old home- 
stead at Lancaster. He had never belonged to any military 



organization before the war, nor was there anything in his natural 
taste or inclination to lead him in that direction, but from motives 
of purest patriotism he entered the service of his country. As 
an officer he was dignified in bearing, courteous to all, and 
secured the love and respect of his men, while he held them in 
strict discipline. His life was full of promise, and his death 
from the mortal stroke received one year before, was a great grief 
to a large circle of relatives and acquaintances. He had never 

Josiah Hayden Vose was born in Robbinston, Maine, March 
11th, 1830. His parents died while he was very young, and he 
went to live with an uncle in Lancaster, Mass., in 1845, where he 
attended the Academy, leaving it to enter upon a practical study 
of mechanics and machinery. Later he became Superintendent 
of the " Coach Lace Mill " in Clinton, Mass., which position he 
occupied at the outbreak of the rebellion. A man of studious 
and industrious mind, he supplemented a somewhat limited 
school education, with much reading and investigation of subjects 
of practical and literary interest, thus fitting himself for a most 
*useful citizen. His fellow-citizens of the town of Clinton, called 
him to the important and responsible duties involved in the 
administration of the Public Schools. He was also given other 
important trusts in the town, but never held political offices 
having declined a nomination of his district for Representative to 
the Legislature. At various times in Lancaster and Clinton he 
delivered lectures upon matters of current interest which received 
most favorable comment. He was an active member of the 
Masonic Order ; master of Trinity Lodge, the members of which 
presented him with a sword and equipments when he entered the 
service. It may truly be said that his strong character and 
personality made a marked, beneficial and lasting imprint upon the 
community in which he lived, and upon his contemporaries, who 
still remember the good he accomplished, and do not cease to 
regret that the promise of his life was not permitted to be fulfilled. 


He married Caroline Cushing Forbes, eldest child of Franklin 
Forbes, of Clinton, October gth, i860. One child, a daughter, 
was born to them. He, with Edward Washburn, was very active 
in recruiting men for a company, in which both became officers, 
and in which both received their mortal wounds June 14th, 1863. 
Mr. Vose was an excellent officer, a good disciplinarian, cool and 
fearless in battle, beloved by his men, and respected by his 
brother officers in the Regiment. 


Comments upon the Siege— Official Records of Vicksburg and Port 
Hudson Campaigns — Correspondence of Generals Grant and 
Banks — Donaldsonville — A Night Attack and a Gallant De- 
fense — Operations of Companies B and K — Orders for the Jour- 
ney Home. 

The capture of Port Hudson was the final blow which 
resulted in opening the Mississippi river from its source to 
its mouth, and on the 16th of July the steamer Imperial 
from St. Louis arrived at New Orleans, being the first 
communication between these two cities for two years. 
On the 28th of the same month she arrived back at her 
wharf in St. Louis and was received with a great demon- 
stration on the part of the citizens. 

It is interesting to note the similarity of the sieges of 
Vicksburg and Port Hudson. On the 19th of May, after 
several engagements, General Grant (by his own report) 
had completed the investment of Vicksburg, and he says, 
after the assault of the 22d : *"I now determined upon 
a regular siege, r to outcamp the enemy' as it were, 
and to incur no more losses." This he did, and the 
regular siege work went on and brought about the sur- 
render July 4th, without any more assaults, the siege 
lasting just forty-six days. 

♦Personal Memoirs, volume i, page 53: 


The investment of Port Hudson was completed May 
23d, and after repeated unsuccessful assaults, surrendered 
July 9th, the siege lasting just forty-seven days. 

There was surrendered at Vicksburg 29,491 prisoners, 
172 cannon, 60,000 muskets and a large amount of am- 
munition ; at Port Hudson 6,340 prisoners, 51 cannon, 
5,000 stands of arms, 150,000 rounds of ammunition, 
4,800 pounds of cannon powder, and two steamers. The 
number of troops engaged in the operations against Vicks- 
burg was 71,000. The number engaged against Port 
Hudson was about 15,000. 

In the Vicksburg campaign the losses as gathered 
from the official records were as follows : 

Federal— killed, 1,514; wounded, 7,395; missing, 453. 
Confederate— killed, 1,260; wounded, 3,572 ; missing, 4,227 ; 
surrendered, by parole certificates, 29,491. 

Grant's effective force ranged from 43,000 at the be- 
ginning to 75,000 at close of campaign. 

The highest confederate force was 40,000, and about 
30,000 when the place was invested. 

In the Port Hudson campaign the losses according to 
official records were : 

Federal— killed, 708; wounded, 3,336; missing, 319. 
Confederate— killed, 176; wounded, 447 ; surrendered, 6,340. 

Banks' effective force from first to last, according to R. 
B. Irwin, his adjutant general, "was 20,000 men of all 
arms engaged at Port Hudson, yet the effective strength 


of infantry and artillery at no time exceeded 13,000 men, 
and at the last hardly reached 9,000." 

There is no official report of the strength of General 
Gardner's army at the time of the investment, but it prob- 
ably at no time exceeded 8,000. 

While it cannot be contended that General Banks pur- 
sued the wisest course in ordering the repeated assaults 
against these formidable works, instead of adopting Gen- 
eral Grant's idea "to outcamp the enemy," he is entitled to 
and should receive much credit for the brilliant military 
movement by which he so rapidly wheeled his army round 
from Alexandria, and also up from Baton Rouge, and 
closed in upon General Gardner, just in the nick of time 
''to bottle him up;" for General Gardner subsequently 
stated that on the very day that our lines closed in upon 
him a courier had arrived from General Johnston with a 
positive order for him to evacuate the post. If this is true, 
a little less celerity on the part of Banks would have 
allowed the escape of about 8,000 troops, who would 
probably soon have been heard from, harrassing General 
Grant's rear at Vicksburg. 

General Grant writes : 

*"The campaign of Vicksburg was suggested and developed 
by circumstances. A forward movement to a decisive victory 
was necessary. Accordingly I resolved to get below Vicksburg, 
unite with Banks against Port Hudson and make New Orleans a 
base ; and with that base, and Grand Gulf as a starting point, 
move our combined forces against Vicksburg. Upon reaching 

* See The Vicksburg Campaign by U. S. Grant. 


Grand Gulf, after running its batteries and fighting a battle, I re- 
ceived a letter from Banks, informing me that he could not be at 
Port Hudson under ten days and then with only fifteen thousand 
men. The time was worth more than the reinforcements. I 
therefore determined to push into the interior of the enemy's 

This was about the ist of May, and we were then at 
Opelousas. It might be interesting to speculate upon 
what would have been the result if the original plan had 
been carried out and General Grant in command at Port 
Hudson. Would the Mississippi river have been opened 
any sooner than it was, or at a less cost? We will hazard 
the opinion that it would not. The depletion of the army 
before Vicksburg by transferring troops to Port Hudson 
would have given Pemberton a chance to still further 
strengthen and widen the defenses of Vicksburg and to 
receive large reinforcements to his army, and the subse- 
quent investment of the place would have been much 
more difficult, and the siege doubtless much more pro- 

General Halleck disapproved the change in plans, but 
results showed the wisdom of the course in having the 
operations going on simultaneously at Vicksburg and Port 

The following synopsis of the correspondence of Grant 
and Banks from May 8th to June 30th is interesting here. 
It is all found in "Official Records of Union and Confed- 
erate Armies," volume 24, part 3. 

May 8th, 1863 ; Banks writes to Grant from Alexandria that 


he -can be at Port Hudson May 25th with fifteen thousand good 
men all told," and invites co-operation. 

May 10th ; Grant ( then before Vicksburg ) writes to Banks 
to join him with his main force to capture Vicksburg before pro- 
ceeding against Port Hudson. 

May 12th ; Banks writes that he cannot join him " in season 
to be of any service." 

May Tjf/i ; Banks writes that he thinks it possible to join 
Grant by transports to Grand Gulf, but prefers co-operation of 
Grant at Port Hudson first and submits reasons. 

May 25th ; Grant writes to Banks to send him "such forces 
as he can spare." 

May 28th ; Banks writes to Grant giving result of the assault 
on the works the day before and begs for five thousand or six 
thousand men from Grant. 

May 2Qt/i ; Grant writes and " hopes to hear that he is in 
possession of the works." 

May 2Qth ; Banks to Grant asks for ten thousand men, " with 
them can reduce Port Hudson in three days " and will then come 
to him. 

May 31st; Grant writes, "I can hold my position, but dare 
not detach ten thousand men from my force." 

* June 4th ; Banks writes the following letter : 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 

Nineteenth Army Corps, 
Before Port Hudson, June 4, 1863. 

Major-General Grant. 

General : — Colonel Riggin delivered to me your letter of the 
31st of May yesterday at 4 P. M. Appreciating the difficulties 

* Official Records, Vol. 24, part 3, page 385. 


of your position I cannot say I was greatly disappointed in 
learning of your inability to send a detachment to our assistance. 
At the same time I deeply regret it. A little additional strength 
would carry us through the enemy's works without delay. I am 
confident, however, that we shall succeed. Our heavy guns are 
now being placed in position and by to-morrow we shall open a 
fire that cannot but make a serious impression, both upon the 
works and the garrison of the enemy. There is a force of 
two thousand or three thousand in our rear, which is being 
strengthened daily by such additions as can be gathered from the 
country about us, that will in a short time give us some trouble. 
Colonel Grierson had a sharp engagement with them yesterday, 
in which we sustained some loss and the enemy lost heavily. 
The consideration that gives me the most anxiety is what course 
I should take in joining you. If I abandon Port Hudson I have 
its garrison of five thousand or six thousand, the force of Mouton 
and Sibley, now in the neighborhood of Brashear City, and the 
army of Mobile to threaten and attack New Orleans. To detach 
from my command troops enough to secure that place, which 
ought not to be less than ten thousand, my support to you would 
be but trifling and would not at the same time prevent the 
enemy's reinforcing Johnston by an equal or larger number of 
men. It seems to me that I have no other course than to carry 
my object here, thus crippling the enemy, and to join you with 
my whole strength as soon as possible. This I hope to accom- 
plish in a few days. I believe, if uninterrupted by fresh attacks, 
this day week will see our flag floating over the fortifications now 
occupied by the enemy. 

With earnest wishes for your success and a determination to 
join you at the earliest possible moment, 

I remain, general, 

Your obedient servant, 

N. P. Banks. 


The foregoing letter seems to have closed the corre- 
spondence on the subject of reinforcing each other, but on 
the 30th of June Grant writes as follows : 

* " Should it be my fortune, general, to get into Vicksburg 
while you are still investing Port Hudson I will commence im- 
mediately sending troops to you in such numbers as you may 
indicate are required." 

To all appearances the best of feeling existed between 
these two officers throughout the whole campaign. 

After the battle of the 14th of June the regiment re- 
mained very inactive until June 30th. Men continued to 
fall sick very fast and soon the colonel, the surgeon and 
the adjutant were stricken down, and on the 22d Captain 
Fay was put in command of the regiment, and June 30th 
Lieutenant Priest was detailed as acting adjutant. The 
surgeon soon recovered sufficiently to assert his authority 
and on the 30th sent the adjutant down the river to Baton 
Rouge, and on July 2d sent the colonel to St. Louis Hos- 
pital, New Orleans. 

There was not much duty to be done and the men tried 
to make themselves as comfortable as the limited facilities 
would allow. On the 26th an order was promulgated 
"that commanders of companies see that their commands 
are ready to move at a moment's notice, with two days" 
cooked rations." On the 30th of June the regiment was 
mustered for payment and the eight companies present 
had dwindled to a few over two hundred fit for duty. 

* Official Records, Vol. 24, part 3, page 452 


This inactive state continued until July 8th, when the 
regiment was ordered on picket duty near the "Plains 


The regiment remained at the Plains Store until July 
nth, when it marched with the brigade for Baton Rouge, 
arriving the 12th. It remained here until the 15th, when 
it embarked for Donaldsonville at 4.30 A. M., arriving 
there the same evening, where the whole brigade went 
into camp near the village for a little rest after its 
four months' active, arduous, and disastrous campaign. 
Here the regiment lapsed into ordinary camp routine, fur- 
nishing its share of men for picket duty in the country 
round about. 

During the regiment's stay at Donaldsonville it enjoyed 
comparative comfort ; the duties were light and the rations 
were more abundant. During the siege it occasionally 
happened that the food was limited to coffee and hard 
bread, sometimes with a little salt pork and sometimes 
without it. It was fortunate that the government could 
keep its army supplied with coffee, which usually was of 
good quality. It is the main stay of an army and es- 
pecially so in the malarious climate where we were. At 
Donaldsonville the food was more varied and the soldiers 
fared well, as we were in the midst of a good foraging 
country, and also nearer New Orleans, our base of sup- 

Donaldsonville is situated about seventy-five miles 
from New Orleans, on the Mississippi river, at the 
confluence of the La Fourche, which was navigable far 


into the country, which is a very productive section. It 
had been quite a rendezvous for rebel guerillas and it was 
early determined to build a fort at that point as one of 
importance to hold. During the protracted siege at Port 
Hudson, when all able-bodied men were needed at the 
front, such places were garrisoned by a small force, mostly 
of convalescents from the hospitals. 

This fort was an exceedingly well constructed earth- 
work, and commanded the approaches in every direction, 
and was named Fort Butler after a man the rebels had no 
love for, and was occupied during the latter part of June, 
1863, bv a portion of two companies, F and G, of the 
Twenty-eighth Maine, a nine months regiment. In addi- 
tion to them there were a large number of convalescents, 
mostly from other nine months regiments at the front. 
The whole garrison numbered one hundred and eighty 
men and was under command of Major J. D. Bullen of 
the Twenty-eighth Maine. 

On the 28th of June it was attacked soon after mid- 
night by a force of from fifteen hundred to two thousand 
men under General Greene, (who had demanded its sur- 
render the day before,) but who were repulsed with great 
loss. Major Bullen's command killed and wounded twice 
as many men as they themselves numbered, including a 
general and several field officers, and captured nearly as 
many prisoners as the number of the garrison and twice 
as many commissioned officers as there were in the fort. 
General Stone in his official report of the battle to General 
Banks, speaks of it as one of the most gallant and brave 


affairs during his military experience, and recommended 
all of the surviving officers for promotion. The following 
is from Major Bullen's report : 

"At half-past one A. M., June 28th, our pickets were fired on 
by those of the enemy, and during their retreat the guns of the 
fort and those of the gunboat " Princess Royal," under command 
of Captain Woolsey, opened on the approaching enemy. But 
their forces moved steadily forward and in a short time Captain 
E. B. Niel, to whom I had entrusted the defense of the left en- 
trance to the fort, received a terrible fire from the enemy, who 
came up on the opposite bank of the Bayou La Fourche to a 
point where they could fire on his flank which was wholly un- 
protected ; but the gallant captain and his command endured the 
fire without wavering and replied with vigor which, with the as- 
sistance of one of the guns of the fort, drove them back in 
disorder. Almost simultaneously with the attack on our left, the 
enemy made a vigorous assault in front of both entrances of the 
fort with a large force. On the left they were bravely repulsed 
by Captain Niel. Captain Thompson of Company G, to whom I 
had given the defense of the right entrance, after a severe en- 
gagement under great disadvantages, and with a number many 
times exceeding his own, was compelled to withdraw to the inner 
works, where the captain and his command with the greatest 
desperation fought the enemy who in large numbers had suc- 
ceeded in getting within the outer works. During the hot fire on 
the left Lieutenant Murch, of Captain Thompson's company, was 
in command of one of the reserves and was ordered to support 
Captain Thompson, which he did with the greatest energy, and 
after an hour's struggle was killed. Here also Lieutenant Perry 
was severely wounded. My force was so small that the reserves 
had now to support Captain Niel, and now Captain Thompson, 
as the case demanded. After an engagement of three hours and 
a half some twenty-five of the enemy at the left surrendered and 
more than one hundred on the right. A majority of those who 
succeeded in getting within our outer works made their escape, 
leaving a little more than one hundred. 


" I cannot speak in terms of too high commendation of my 
gallant officers and my brave men who fought against so great a 
superiority of numbers with unaccountable energy and endurance. 

" Of the enemy we have buried more than fifty that we gath- 
ered up just without and within our outer works. Twenty-five of 
their wounded we found where we gathered up their dead. The 
remainder were borne away by the retreating forces. The num- 
ber must have been large. Two deserters came in yesterday and 
stated that the enemy acknowledged a loss of five hundred killed 
and wounded."* 

This very full account of the gallant defence is given 
here for several reasons : 

First, the garrison was nearly all nine months men 
whose term of service had nearly expired, who were 
sometimes sneered at by the longer term men, but had 
shown themselves equal to veterans in fighting qualities 
on this occasion. 

Second, the writer fails to find in any of the histories 
of the "Army of the Gulf" anything more than a passing 
allusion to the affair, and found the above report of Major 
Bullen only in the adjutant-general's report of Maine. 

Third, and above all, for the reason that the Fifty-third 
Regiment furnished for that fight one sergeant and twelve 
privates out of the little force of one hundred and eighty 

Their names are proudly recorded here as follows: 

Sergeant Oren Morean of Company H ; Private O. M. Joslin 
of Company G ; Privates James Earle, Henry W. Kidder, Leander 

*General Mouton, commanding Confederate troops south of Red river, re- 
ports two hundred and sixty casualties on this occasion.— Official Records. 


W. Lamb, and Samuel K. Savage, of Company H; Privates 
Thomas W. Tolman and Edward M. Underwood, of Company A ; 
Private Levi S. Wright of Company B ; Privates Nathaniel Hol- 
man, Lewis O. Law, Thomas C. Litchfield, and Thomas S. Litch- 
field, of Company D. 

Only one was injured, James Earle, wounded in the 
eye. A majority of them are now living, and still repeat 
the story of the desperate fight with a great deal of zest. 

The brave Major Bullen, who commanded the fort, 
was cruelly assassinated just one week later by a drunken 
soldier under his command, Private Francis Scott of Com- 
pany F, First Louisiana Volunteers. The latter was tried 
by court martial at New Orleans and shot. 

The following are sketches of movements of the de- 
tached companies B and K : Company K was by order 
from division headquarters, March roth, 1863, detailed 
as fioncers for the division, and from this time until 
about the time of our starting for home they were 
separated from us. A little later on they were advanced 
to the position of "pioneers" for the army corps and 
then our Company B was called upon to take their 
position as division pioneers, and also remained nearly 
through the term of service. Why our commanding 
officers should take such a fancy to us, as being peculiarly 
fitted for that sort of duty, does not appear, but that 
they gave good satisfaction is quite apparent as they 
were retained until the close of our service, and we had 
only .eight companies to go into our fights with, as has 
already appeared in these pages. The ground covered by 


them was substantially the same as ours, but some of their 
separate experiences, so far as can be ascertained, are 
given in the pages following : 

Company B* was detailed as pioneers for the division 
April 8th, 1863, at Algiers and proceeded by railroad with 
the division to Berwick Bay. As the army moved out 
into the enemy's country it took its position as guard to the 
baggage train. Each man carried beside his gun either an 
axe or a spade. It marched out to Pattersonville, April 
nth, and on the 12th moved from four to six miles toward 
Centreville, where it remained during the fight at Bisland 
the next day, with no duty to perform but waiting for 
whatever might be required of them. On the 14th the 
army again being put in motion in pursuit of the retreat- 
ing rebels, the company marched with the baggage train, 
except a squad left behind to bury the dead and which 
again joined the company during the next day. On the 
17th the company was engaged in rebuilding a bridge at 
Vermillion bayou, which the retreating army had de- 
stroyed. At Opelousas, where the army remained a week 
or more, the company was employed in guard duty, in 
foraging, and in various duties assigned them at head- 

The company marched May 5th with the baggage 
train of the Division and the next day was engaged in 
rebuilding another bridge near Washington, and then 

*The materia] for this sketch was furnished by Richard Tucker, Eber 
Clark, and from a diary of Alonzo Gould, kindly loaned by E. A. [ones, his 


continued with the column on its march to Alexandria with 
no other special duty to perform. At Alexandria it was en- 
gaged in guard duty and marched on May 15th for Sims- 
port, reaching there May 19th, and rested there the 20th. 
While most of the troops were moved to Port Hudson by 
transports on the Atchafalaya river, the wagon train, with 
this company and some other troops as a guard, moved 
across the country, starting May 21st and reaching Wil- 
liamsport, twelve miles distant, that night. On the 2 2d it 
marched eighteen miles and encamped, and on the 23d it 
marched nine miles to the Mississippi river, at a point op- 
posite Bayou Sara. Here it was engaged in loading the 
wagons on steamers, to be carried across the river and 
early in the morning of the 24th it crossed the river, and 
in the afternoon marched twelve miles to Port Hudson, ar- 
riving about midnight. On May 25th the company was 
engaged in building a piece of road to get the artillery 
over, and cutting the trees through the woods to the 
enemy's lines, and were under fire a portion of the time 
and finally were driven out by it, but on the 26th the work 
was resumed, the rebels having all been driven into their 
works. On the 28th the company was engaged in bury- 
ing the dead from the battle of the day before : also in 
constructing breastworks of bags of cotton. On the 29th 
it was engaged in road building, under fire somewhat, and 
a portion of the company worked all night on breast- 
works, and also on the night of the 30th. During the 
nights of June 1st and 2d it was engaged in the same 
kind of work, and cutting brush and building a screen to 


hide the men carrying ammunition over an exposed point 
to the cannoniers. 

The company went on the expedition to Clinton but 
had no special duty or adventure of note. On the ioth of 
June it was engaged in clearing a space in the woods and 
arranging a temporary hospital, in preparation for the im- 
pending battle. Also in loading cotton, covering a bridge 
with it to deaden the sounds from crossing, and in tilling 
hogsheads with cotton for breastworks. On the 13th it 
cleared out obstructions from a road, over which the as- 
saulting column was to move the next day. 

On the 14th of June the company was detailed with 
the assaulting column to go forward and level the em- 
bankment after a breach should be made, and laid a little 
in the rear with the Thirty-first Massachusetts Regiment, 
two companies of which carried cotton bags, during the 
morning's fight ; and after the assault had failed the men 
got off the field as best they could and made their way 
back to camp. 

On the 17th it worked burying the dead of the 14th, a 
terribly disagreeable job, the bodies having been exposed 
in the hot sun three days. One hundred and thirty bodies 
were buried in one trench on that part of the field. On 
the 18th the company worked in the trenches during the 
day and night, working by reliefs of one-half hour each. 
On the 24th and 25th, it was engaged in constructing 
breastworks, using sugar hogsheads filled with cotton. 
On July 6th it worked in the ditch through which the ''for- 
lorn hope " was to pass to make its assault. 


Port Hudson surrendered on the 9th and on the nth 
the company marched for Baton Rouge, arriving on the 
1 2th. On the 15th it was ordered to join the regiment at 
Donaldsonville and took passage by steamer, arriving the 
next day. 

Company K* was by order from division headquarters 
detailed as division pioneers, March 10th, 1863, and or- 
dered to report to Brigadier-General Emory on the nth 
with three days' rations. As the company left camp at 
Magnolia Grove, Company B, (the members of which 
were on the most intimate terms with those of Company 
K,) was drawn up in line and three cheers were given for 
their departing comrades, which were returned with a 
will. The company reported with two officers and sixty- 
seven men, and under command of Lieutenant Burpee 
(Captain Beaman being sick at the time). Upon arriving 
at headquarters General Emory looked the men over, 
asked where the company was raised, and if they under- 
stood the handling of an axe, spade, pick, etc., and being 
satisfied on these points the men were supplied with tools 
and instructed that they were to be near headquarters and, 
on the march, were to guard the ammunition wagons. 
This position was held during the first movement upon 
Port Hudson and until April 6th, when the company was 
ordered to report to Major Houston, chief engineer of 
General Banks' staff, and thenceforward were subject to 
his orders and became the "Nineteenth Army Corps Pio- 
neers," having added to their number by detail from eleven 

*The writer is indebted to Lieutenant Burpee for the data from which the 
sketch of Company K is made up. 


other regiments one officer and sixty-three men, made up 
from carpenters, boat builders, calkers, blacksmiths, etc., 
and were also furnished four mule teams to convey them. 
The company marched with the army from Berwick and 
their first active duty was to build a bridge at Bisland, 
which was begun under tire from the rebels, which the 
gunboat Clifton soon quieted. This bridge, two hundred 
feet long, was built in a very short space of time strong 
enough to take over men and artillery. This improvised 
pontoon bridge was built by taking from a sugar house 
near by a large number of sugar troughs found there, 
lashing them together, laying joists from one to another, 
and covering with the planks which the rebels had very 
convenientlv left on the banks after destroying the bridge 
previously existing at that point. The bridge answered 
the purpose very well, but too many guns were allowed 
upon it at once, which caused the pontoons to fill, and let 
a caisson with four horses and several men into the bayou. 
The horses were cut loose and got out, the men saved by 
boats and the caisson was afterwards got out. General 
Banks coming upon the ground to find out the cause of 
the delav in getting his artillery up, upon an explanation 
being given, ordered for future crossings that the horses 
be taken off and the guns dragged over by hand, one at 
a time. This was done and the crossing and recrossing 
safely executed. The bridge, or a portion of it, was then 
removed to allow the Clifton to go up the bayou. The 
company on this occasion worked continually thirty-six 
hours without any rest. After the battle at Bisland was 


over one officer and thirty men from this company were 
ordered aboard the gunboat Clifton to act as sharpshooters 
and to remove obstructions from the bayou. The rest of 
the company moved on with the army to Franklin ; a por- 
tion of them had, by orders from Major Houston, supplied 
themselves with horses from the country, to be mounted as 
cavalry, but were very soon deprived of them for the pur- 
pose of giving them to the Forty-first Massachusetts 
Regiment, which was being organized as cavalry, but 
they were soon supplied with others. 

At Franklin an officer and twelve men were left to 
disable machinery, which had been used by the rebels to 
make gun carriages, which they accomplished and burned 
a large quantity of material all ready to be put together. 
They then joined the company again. On the 17th of 
April the company arrived, with the head of the column, 
at Vermillion bayou. The rear of the rebel column was 
on the opposite bank, having set the bridge on fire. In 
their haste they had left on the opposite shore a fine horse, 
fully equipped. One of the members of the pioneers, 
named Moore, volunteered to go over and swim the horse 
over. In attempting to do this the horse became unman- 
ageable in the middle of the stream, and he was thrown 
off' and drowned. After the bridge was rebuilt and the 
army moved on to Opelousas, the company on April 21st 
advanced into the country to a point four miles beyond 
Washington, where it built a bridge, guarding it until the 
29th, and at the same time was engaged in picking up 
cotton and sugar and bringing into our lines. The posi- 
tion was really an advanced outpost and the company kept 


its camp picketed and had Nims' Battery to aid it in case 
of any attack. 

May 1st the company built a bridge and moved on 
towards Alexandria, arriving there May 7th. On the 
1 2th of May it moved out to Cane river, built a bridge, 
and returned on the 12th. On the 13th it marched for 
Simsport, arriving there on the 17th, reporting to General 

It remained there until the 24th, engaged in running 
boats across the Atchafalaya river, transporting troops and 
baggage trains, employing a large number of negroes 
which had been turned over to them. The company took 
passage May 24th on the Forest Qjieen for Bayou Sara, 
arriving on the 25th, and marched to Port Hudson, 
twelve miles distant. 

On the 26th was engaged in building a bridge under 
fire, but protected by the Thirty-eighth Massachusetts 
Regiment, and the Eighteenth New York Battery, which 
was stationed on a bluff in our rear. While this battery 
was shelling the woods over the heads of the company, one 
of its shells burst over them, unfortunatelv killing two of 
the men. The combined efforts of the Thirty-eighth 
Regiment and the battery were finally successful in si- 
lencing the rebel guns, and the bridge was completed in 
season for the assault of the 27th. 

It was at this point that the Third and Fourth Louisiana 
Regiments (colored) were ordered to cross and charge 
the enemy's works, which they most gallantly did, again 
and again, but were repulsed with heavy loss. On the 


28th the company was ordered to General Banks' head- 
quarters, where it arrived the 29th, and from that time 
until June 18th was engaged in making "fascines" and 
working on fortifications, much of the work being done 
by night. Captain Beaman rejoined the company at this 

On the 21st the company was ordered down the Baton 
Rouge road to build a bridge and repair the road, outside 
of our lines. The wagon train of the company was 
attacked but the enemy was repulsed and left forty-five 
prisoners behind. The bridge was built, the road re- 
paired, and the company marched to Springfield Landing. 
The next few days were spent in making one thousand 
"fascines." From July 1st to 6th worked on the fortifica- 
tions. On the 6th and 7th the company worked on the 
trenches close to and within speaking distance of the 
rebels, and reported to them the surrender of Vicksburg. 
On the 7th worked undermining the works and placing 
under them loaded boxes, two feet square, designed to be 
exploded by electricity to breach the works. 

July 9th the company marched into Port Hudson to 
witness the surrender, and on the 12th marched to the 
landing to take boat for Donaldsonville, the teams going 
by land. The company arrived at Donaldsonville on July 
1 6th, reported to General Grover and went to work on 
fiat boats. It remained there until August 3d, and then 
reported back to the regiment at Baton Rouge. 

On the 2d of August the brigade was again ordered to 
Baton Rouge, and arrived there the same evening. 


On August 9th orders came for the regiment to embark 
for Cairo as soon as transportation could be obtained. 

Headquarters United States Forces, 
Baton Rouge, La., August 5, 1863. 

Special Order No. 3. 

Extract II. The commanding officer of the Fifty-third Mas- 
sachusetts Volunteers will immediately proceed with his regiment 
to Algiers, reporting on his arrival to Lieutenant-Colonel Irwin, 
assistant adjutant-general, at department headquarters. The 
Quartermaster's Department will furnish transportation. 

By command of 
Colonel and Acting Brigadier-General Sharp. 
F. Speed, Captain and A. A. G. 

Headquarters Department of the Gulf, 
Nineteenth Army Corps, 

New Orleans, August 6, 1863. 
Special Order No. 191. 


The Quartermaster's Department will immediately furnish 
transportation by river to Cairo, for the following named regi- 
ments of nine months troops : ■ . 

Fifty-third Massachusetts now at Baton Rouge, but ordered 
yesterday to Algiers to collect its baggage. 

TV * * "JF -Tf ^ ^ 

These regiments immediately upon being provided with trans- 
portation will proceed to Cairo, Illinois, where their commanding 
officers will make requisition for railway and steamboat trans- 
portation to the place of rendezvous, or enrollment of their 
respective regiments, whence they will report by letter to the 
United States mustering officers at Boston and Hartford respec- 


J 93 

The arms, accoutrements and ammunition will be turned over 
to the Ordnance Department, reserving twenty-five muskets, etc., 
and five hundred ball cartridges for guard duty while en route. 

All camp and garrison equipage, and clothing not issued to 
the men, and all transportation and quartermasters' stores will be 
turned over to such officers of the Quartermaster's Department, 
as Colonel S. B. Holabird, chief quartermaster, may designate. 

All surplus medical and hospital stores will be turned over to 
the medical purveyor. The regiments will take with them ten 
days' rations. By command of 

Major-General Banks, 

Richard B. Irwin, Assistant Adjutant-General. 

To Colonel of Fifty-third Massachusetts. 


Preparations for the Homeward Journey— Embarkation on the Me- 
teor-voya(ie to cairo— incidents en route —arrival in fltch- 
burg and Grand Reception — Muster Out. 

On the morning of August 12th the regiment was in 
obedience to orders marched into a field, where they 
turned over guns and equipments, and all ammunition, to 
an officer detailed to receive it, and then returned to 
quarters to prepare for embarkation. The regiment was 
also mustered for payment and received two months' pay. 
At 2 P. M. the line was again formed, (for the last 
time on Louisiana soil,) and marched for the levee, where 
it embarked on the steamer Meteor, bound for Cairo, 
Illinois. The men were in high spirits that they were 
really starting for their homes. The colonel and adjutant 
had rejoined the regiment and all the other convalescents 
who were thought able to accompany the regiment were 
brought up from the hospitals at New Orleans and else- 
where, while a large number of others more feeble had 
been shipped by the "St. Mary's," for New York, some 
days before. Lieutenant-Colonel Barrett, who had been 
in command of a convalescent camp at New Orleans for 
several months, also joined us before sailing. 

We sailed about 4.15 P. M. and arrived beneath the 

frowning but now silent batteries of Port Hudson at about 

dusk. Running up to the shore for a short stop, we were 

greeted with all sorts of salutations from a lot of men of 


various three years regiments, who had heard that we were 
nine months men going home, and apparently feeling en- 
vious of us, sought to annoy us and gratify their spleen by 
advising us "not to get so far from our mothers' apron 
strings again," and other remarks not at all complimentary 
in their nature. But the boys were altogether too happy 
and good natured, to return anything but pleasant re- 
joinders. We reached Natchez on the 13th at 9.30 A. M., 
where we made a short stop, and found there at the 
landing the steamer Chancellor with the Twenty-third 
Connecticut Regiment on board, also homeward bound. 
This was a very pleasant day, and the sail was a new 
experience which was much enjoyed. 

The following orders were issued for the government 
of the regiment en 7'onte : 

Headquarters Fifty-third Mass. Regt., 

On Board Steamer Meteor, August 13, 1863. 

Regimental Special Order No. 65. 

I. The colonel commanding is pleased to announce that he 
has so far recovered as to be able to return to the regiment, and 
hereby assumes command of the same. It is expected that the 
same order and decorum which has ever governed the movements 
of the regiment when in transitu, will mark our progress home- 
ward without any strict rules being prescribed. Whenever stop- 
pages are made, either by boat or cars, no one will leave without 
proper authority from headquarters. All enlisted men must 
when absent be accompanied by an officer, through whom the ap- 
plication for leave of absence must come. Morning reports will 
be required daily and must be handed in before 9 o'clock A. M. 

The following calls will be observed : Reveille, 5 A.M.; sur- 
geon's call, 7.30; first sergeant's call, 8.30 ; retreat, sunset ; tat- 
too, 8 P. M. ; Taps, 8.30. 


An officer of the clay will be detailed daily; also a guard 
sufficient to preserve order on board. 

II. Sergearit E. C. Whitney of Company 1 is hereby ap- 
pointed acting second lieutenant of said company. He will enter 
upon his duties at once, and will be obeyed and respected ac- 

III. The colonel commanding would suggest to the men, that 
they use every effort, in going up the river, to secure a thorough 
cleanliness of person. Opportunities will probably occur, during 
stoppages, for bathing in the river, and water can be drawn from 
the same at any time for ordinary washing. 

By command of 

John W. Kimball, Colonel Commanding. 

Henry A. Willis, .Adjutant. 

A consolidated morning report showed the condition of 
the regiment to be as follows : 

Present for duty : Field officers, three ; regimental staff offi- 
cers, five. Company A, two officers, sixty men ; Company B, 
three officers, fifty-eight men ; Company C, two officers, forty-four 
men ; Company D, three officers, sixty-four men ; Company E, 
two officers, fifty-eight men ; Company F, two officers, fifty-four 
men ; Company G, three officers, fifty-six men ; Company H, three 
officers, thirty-two men ; Company I, one officer, forty-five men ; 
Company K, three officers, fifty-four men. Sick, one officer, 
sixty-six men ; in arrest, one man ; absent by authority, three 
officers, ninety-seven men ; absent without authority, one man. 
Aggregate present and absent, thirty-six officers, six hundred and 
ninety men. 

The steamer Meteor was a regular river steamboat, 
large and comfortable. There were a large number of 
state rooms, which were occupied by the sick and by the 


officers, and the men were comfortably disposed in various 
parts of the vessel. 

We arrived at Vicksburg at i A. M. on the 14th, 
where we stopped until 1 P. M., the steamer taking on a 
supply of coal. The day was pleasant but exceedingly 
hot. Some of the officers and men went on shore and up 
in the town to get what idea they might of the celebrated 
stronghold. As it was only six weeks after the surrender, 
the condition of the place was much the same as then, 
and the marks of the terrible pounding it had received 
from Grant's army were everywhere apparent. The 
most of the buildings were badly shattered from the ex- 
plosion of shells, and there was still a fair crop of old iron 
lying about the streets and fields. 

The bluffs and banks through which streets were dug 
were fairly honeycombed with caves, which had been ex- 
cavated and occupied by the people who fled from the 
houses during the six weeks' siege. Some of these were 
made in several compartments, connecting by passages cut 
through the heavy clay. Here the families lived in com- 
parative safety through those fearful days, and although 
babes were born and women sickened, it is recorded that 
few deaths occurred, excepting among the soldiers*, during 
the whole siege. 

The stop here enabled the company cooks to get ashore 
and as one of the members of Company C has it in his 
diary, "to cook up a supply of sa/t horse for the rest of 
the voyage." The recollection of the writer is, that he 
scoured the lower part of the town for something in the 


way of provisions, but there seemed to be no business 
doing. We did succeed in finding a baker's establishment 
in full blast, and the home-like flavor of the hot ginger- 
bread there obtained, still lingers in memory. 

We resumed our journey at 1 P. M., passed an un- 
eventful night, and entered upon another hot day. The 
river is very low and the banks on much of the way very 
high, and the consequence is, that we get but little air 
across and through the steamer, and at times the heat is 
intolerable. At 2 P. M. this day we pass the steamers 
"Champion" and "Ike Hammett" having one of our gun- 
boats in tow, which was disabled in front of Vicksburg. 
At eight P. M. we pass Napoleon, which point has lately 
been infested with guerillas, who have rired upon the 
passing steamers, and we are expecting some of their 
compliments. But we glide along quietly, not even a 
single "minnie" coming to vary the monotony of the situa- 
tion by its familiar "zip" 

Sunday, Aug. 16th ; this was a very sultry day. We 
arrived at Helena at 10.30 A. M., where we made a short 
stop. It was very short. So thought Lieutenant Brown 
of Company E. He had rushed ashore at the first touch 
of the boat at the landing, having espied a notice of "Ice 
for sale" a short distance away. He reached the place, 
purchased a large lump of ice, and with it under his arm 
started on his return, but, alas for his presumption, we had 
already swung into the stream and were off. Bareheaded 
he stood there, with the ice under one arm and wildly 
gesticulating with the other, a picture of despair, — while 


cries of "good bye, Brown," "we will report you at home,"' 
and "keep cool, Brown, you have the facilities for doing 
it," greeted him as the distance widened. But luck was 
with him. He soon got aboard another boat, faster than 
ours, and was able to join us again a day or two later. 
But the little episode lasted him all the way home, and he 
is occasionally rallied upon it at this late day. 

- We arrived at Memphis early on the morning of August 
17th, where we remained several hours. This was a pleas- 
ant day, and a much more comfortable one than the three 
preceding ones. Some of the officers went ashore and took 
a trip out to Fort Pickering, which occupied a very com- 
manding point upon the river. We also had a sad duty to 
perform here. Isaac Allen of Company D had long been 
sick with "chronic diarrhoea," but had taken passage with 
us hoping to reach his home, but his disease had pro- 
gressed rapidly and he had died the night before. His 
body was delivered into the hands of responsible parties 
here to be buried, as it was impossible to transfer the re- 
mains to Massachusetts. Corporal Walter A. Brooks of 
Company I, suffering with typhoid fever, was left here 
and placed in a hospital. Proceeding on our way we 
passed Island No. 10 just before dark, reached Fort Pillow 
at 8 P. M., and arrived at Cairo at 3 o'clock the next 

Sergeant William H. Whitcomb of Company K died 
this day of "congestive chills," and his body was left at 
Cairo until further orders. Several of our sick ones, who 
were unable to go further, we sadly left here with the 


hope that in a few days, with strength recuperated, they 
could continue their journey home. We remained here 
through the day, most of the regiment being kept aboard 
the steamer. The colonel made requisition for transporta- 
tion by railroad and secured a train late in the afternoon, 
and the regiment was put aboard. There was only one 
passenger car on the train, the rest being all common 
freight cars. It seemed hard to the men after the com- 
fortable quarters on the boat to be put into these cars like 
so man}' cattle, but they accepted the uncomfortable situa- 
tion, as they had many others before, uncomplainingly, 
and with plenty of straw proceeded to make themselves as 
comfortable as circumstances would allow. We left Cairo 
at 6 P. M. and were soon steaming across the country, 
realizing more than ever that we were really nearing our 

The first night by railroad was not a comfortable one. 
The change from comparatively comfortable quarters on 
board steamer, to the floors of hard riding freight cars, 
was too great and sleeping was almost out of the question. 
We arrived at Mattoon, 111., at 12.30 P. M., where we 
changed cars, but only for other freight cars. We re- 
monstrated somewhat but could get no passenger cars, 
they were not to be had, and we simply had to make the 
best of it. 

We left here, too sick to go on, Lieutenant Edgell of 
Company G ; also Corporal Norman C. Rice of Company 
K, who afterward died of typhoid fever. We arrived at 
Centralia at about 5 P. M., and at Indianapolis the next 


morning (August 21st) at 1 A. M. Here we found the 
people expecting us and they had already made provision 
for us. We received a nice breakfast at the "Soldiers' 
Relief," and finding that we were to remain until afternoon 
an opportunity was afforded to many who had friends and 
acquaintances in the city to call upon them. Colonel 
Gooding, our late brigade commander, was in the city on 
a "leave of absence," and took occasion to come to the 
depot and give us a call ; and to tell the truth he seemed 
more glad to see us than he ever did before and whether 
it was because he was glad we were going home, or be- 
cause he had begun to appreciate our services better -as he 
was about to lose us, it was difficult to determine, but he 
was quite profuse with his compliments and expressed 
good wishes for our safe journey home. 

We left Indianapolis at 2 P. M. and arrived at Muncie, 
Ind., at about 6 P. M. We made but a short stop here, 
but on arrival the train was immediately surrounded with 
gentlemen and ladies, bringing a generous supply of eata- 
bles and delicacies for the sick, wines, cordials, etc. We 
give them thanks and parting cheers and are off again, 
whirling along through the darkness at a fair rate of 
speed, and nothing of note occurred until our arrival at 
Cleveland the next day at 1 P. M. Here again we found 
we were expected and the citizens had provided a fine 
dinner for us, the tables being spread in the depot, and 
ample time was afforded for us to do it justice. The peo- 
ple seemed to take great interest in us, and could not do 
too much for us while we remained, and it may well be 


supposed that we appreciated their kindness to the fullest 
extent. Only those who have had a similiar experience of 
campaigning for many months in an enemy's country and 
an unhealthy climate, can rightly measure the fullness of 
our joy and the depth of our gratitude, to once more find 
ourselves among a loyal people and sympathizing friends, 
or realize the luxury of once more sitting down to a well 
appointed table for a civilized meal. Our thanks found 
free vent in the ringing cheers which waked the echoes of 
the old railroad station. Here we changed cars again and 
a portion of the regiment was assigned to passenger cars, 
which was an agreeable change for the fortunate ones. 

During the night before we lost a man overboard. It 
was a moonlight night, the train was moving at about 
twenty-rive miles per hour, when word came to the head- 
quarter's car, that Patrick Rogers of Company F had 
rolled out, or stepped out of the car door, whether asleep 
or awake did not appear. As soon as possible communi- 
cation was had with the conductor of the train, but we had 
already gone many miles from the spot, and the conductor 
declined to run back, saying he must have been killed. 
But at the next stopping place word was telegraphed back 
to the nearest station to the point where he went out, re- 
questing a search to be made for him, the body to be sent 
to Massachusetts if found. It was not found — Patrick 
had not safely run the gauntlet of the rebel shot and shell, 
for the last few months, to be wiped out by any such a 
slight thing as falling from a moving train. He pulled 
himself together and started out on foot, following the rail- 
road track. His subsequent experience from that time to 


some ten days later is not related, but at the end of that 
time he surprised the people of Barre, one day, as he rode 
into town on the top of a stage coach, not a bit the worse 
for his adventure. He was asked if it hurt him much 
falling out, and he replied that it "jarred him a little." 
He is not now living, or we would perhaps be able to give 
a little fuller account of his experience. 

We left Cleveland during the afternoon, and arrived at 
Erie at 6 o'clock the same evening. Here we found 
another reception awaiting us, a fine supper being pro- 
vided in the depot. A large number of ladies were 
present, to wait upon the tables, who were very solicitous 
for our comfort and especially for the feeble ones of our 
number. They insisted upon our bringing out our tattered 
flag, which they gazed upon with much interest. Time 
enough was given us to thoroughly discuss the eatables 
and to enjoy the society, for a brief season, of these peo- 
ple who showed so friendly an interest in us. It was the 
best of all the receptions of the entire route, but with song 
and cheers it was brought to a close, and we were soon 
again on our way. We arrived at Buffalo at midnight 
and here we secured passenger cars for the entire regi- 
ment and moved on immediately. 

August 23d, at about noon, we arrived at Utica and 
were again hospitably entertained by the citizens. At 6 
P. M. Albany was reached, where we made our final 
change of cars. We were also provided with plenty of 
bread and ham and settled down for our last night ride. 
We were here met by Hon. Alvah Crocker, who had 


been delegated to come out and invite us to a reception at 
Fitchburg on arrival, permission having been obtained 
from the authorities at Boston for the regiment to debark 
at Fitchburg, instead of Camp Stevens where we had 
been ordered to go. We arrived at Fitchburg at 6 A. M. 
Monday, August 24th, having been twelve days en route. 
The train was stopped at South Fitchburg to enable all 
hands to bathe in the river and otherwise prepare for the 
grand reception, prepared for us by the people of Fitch- 
burg. Refreshments were sent down from the town. 
After about two or three hours spent here, the cars were 
again taken, and we were soon at the station and sur- 
rounded with our friends. The public reception soon 
followed and the following is a very full account of the 
same from the Fitchburg Sentinel : 

"The Fifty-third Regiment returned home on Monday last, 
when the reception took place. The regiment arrived at South 
Fitchburg about 6 o'clock in the morning, where they made a 
stop for a short time. Many of their friends visited them there, 
— hot coffee and refreshments were sent down to them, towels 
and soap were furnished, and water being close by the men of 
the regiment improved the opportunity for a good wash, which 
they needed after a long and dusty ride of nearly two weeks. 

" Early in the morning the people from the neighboring towns 
came pouring into the village from every direction, in all sorts of 
vehicles. Later in the morning the railroad trains made large 
additions to the masses which already filled our streets, until 
Main street was a perfect sea of moving, living people, all eager 
to unite in giving to the returned regiment a glorious reception, 
which they had so richly -earned by their devotion to the flag 
which one year before they had pledged themselves to uphold 
and maintain. 


"The procession was formed about 10 o'clock, on Main 
street near the Fitchburg Hotel, under the direction of Colonel 
Edwin Upton, chief marshal, assisted by William Kimball, Francis 
Buttrick, Jr., William W. Comee, C. L. S. Hammond, and Joseph 
A. Tufts. The procession then marched to the depot, and es- 
corted the regiment to the Park in front of the American House, 
where a stand had been erected for the speakers. Prayer was 
offered by Rev. J. M. Heard, pastor of the Unitarian Society of 
this town. After which Amasa Norcross, Esq., delivered the fol- 
lowing appropriate welcome address : 

"Colonel Kimball, officers and soldiers of the Fifty-third 
Regiment — Welcome ! Welcome to the state you have honored 
— welcome to familiar scenes — to home and friends. 

" It is with a new experience I give you greeting in behalf of 
this vast assemblage. 

"It has not happened to us ever before to greet friends under 
similar circumstances. — To-day the heart fills with new emotions. 
— Words of mine are indeed but inexpressive utterances when 
they attempt to measure the depth of that outgushing sympathy, 
mingled with patriotic pride and affection, which the hearts of all 
who have awaited your coming now fully experience. 

"You return to us after the lapse of nine months and more. 
A period, on the part of those who surround you, of thoughtful 
solicitude, characterized by intervals of intense anxiety, yet of 
earnest hope. You come, the worthy recipients of that honor 
which manly courage, faithful performance of duty, heroic endur- 
ance, and success in arms in a just and noble cause, may 
rightfully bestow. 

"We recur to the time when impending danger summoned 
you to the field. When voluntarily you sundered all the ties that 
bound you to the active pursuits of peaceful civil life, and im- 
pelled only by a sense of duty, left all for the service of your 

"When your ranks were filled, and we witnessed your bearing 
in camp, we then believed that the future had in store for you no 


holiday experience. The determined character of the men com- 
posing this regiment, was enough to satisfy the citizens who 
remained at home, that yours would be a field of active service. 
And when with unanimous voice you welcomed as your leader 
and commander, one who took his early baptism in this great 
struggle against treason at the ever memorable Ball's Bluff, one 
who fearlessly stood in the thickest of the fight through the 
weary days of the campaign of the Peninsula, who was com- 
mended for his gallant bravery at the battle of Fair Oaks, and 
through the desperate conflicts of South Mountain and Antietam 
— we knew it signified that such a commander but realized your 
conceptions of what should be expected of Massachusetts men. 

"Soon after bidding adieu to home and its attractions, you en- 
countered sufferings not soon to be forgotten. Thrown upon 
Long Island, tentless and shelterless, you passed a season so in- 
clement, that chilled and frozen, some of you were for a time 
disabled. Your position changed for quarters in the city of New 
York. Before entering upon your destined voyage, there came 
sickness which seemed to threaten prolonged delay. But the 
part you were to take in this great contest was not then to be 
determined. Convalescence ensued, the sick recovered, and it 
now seems as if these early privations and sufferings were de- 
signed but to prepare you for more trying experiences. 

"Embarking for your place of destination, you accomplished 
a passage of more than seventeen hundred miles, at times tem- 
pestuous, during which sickness and peril at sea, were added to 
the sufferings already endured upon land. 

"Such were the experiences, such the unaccustomed privations 
you were called to endure before entering upon the brilliant cam- 
paign through which you have since passed. From the hour of 
your arrival at New Orleans until the expiration of your term of 
enlistment, few regiments, if any, had seen severer service, and 
none have more fully earned the gratitude of their country. 

" Time would fail me to recount in detail the hardships en- 
countered. The sanguinary contests with a vigilant enemy, the 
subjugation of an extensive territory where now the flag of free- 
dom floats securely, your long and weary marches traversing a 


distance of more than six hundred miles, the suffering and ex- 
posure on the march, the effect of an unaccustomed pestilential 
climate, sapping at the foundation of many a strong constitution, 
all these form but a part of the material of a history yet to be 
written of that eventful campaign. 

"Yet, passing through all this, there still remained unaccom- 
plished the crowning work of your gallant army — the reduction 
of Port Hudson — the opening of that vast river, which gave to 
loyalty, unobstructed possession thereof, from the Falls of St. 
Anthony to the Gulf. 

"This event, occurring only after terrific assaults in which it 
was reserved to the Fifty-third Regiment to take so distinguished 
a part, must forever stand out in the clear light of history, as one 
of the most important achievements of the loyal armies. 

" And while we gladly recognize this glorious success, we 
are not unmindful of the cost or the means employed for its 
accomplishment. Shoulder to shoulder stood the sons of New 
England and the brave men of the West, and while the mainte- 
nance of a common flag, and the support of a common govern- 
ment, was the chief concern of all who fought and all who fell in 
the struggles before Port Hudson, I cannot doubt that our 
countrymen of the West will ever remember that the best blood 
of New England was shed to open up to them more immediately 
an undisputed communication between their vast possessions and 
the Gulf. 

" Hereafter, if the enemy of his country shall dare suggest 
the possibility of separation between New England and the West 
let him know that his words are vain, for at Port Hudson a bond 
of Eternal Union between the East and the West was sealed with 
the commingled blood of the sons Of each. That bond of unity 
thus cemented in blood, cannot be broken as long as the banks 
of the Mississippi shall be hallowed by the memory of New 
England's heroic dead. 

" But there remains one subject which presses with sorrowful 
weight upon many hearts, and extends its shadow over us all. 
All have not returned. Your ranks are thinned — bv sickness and 


wounds many are prevented from participating in the joys of this 
occasion. The faces of some we shall see no more on earth — 
they have fallen. They have placed upon the altar of their 
country the richest gift that loyal devotion can offer. They have 
sacrificed their lives in defense of her integrity and her honor, 
for the perpetuation of Republican Liberty and for the cause of 
humanity among the nations everywhere. Enshrined in our 
hearts and among our most sacred memories, shall incidents of 
the lives of each find a place. 

" I would not trust myself to make personal allusion to each 
of your fallen comrades ; their memory requires no words to in- 
voke a common gratitude. 

" ' High on the world's heroic list 
Shall every name be seen ; 
And time among the cherished dead 
Shall keep their memories green. 

" ' The patriot's heart shall warmer glow, 
When standing by their grave; 
And dearer still shall be the flag 
They welcomed death to save.' 

" Thus shall it be — and to you who remain, permit me to say 
that the consciousness of important duty well performed, the 
preservation of a government better than any other, the gratitude 
of a great people, are among the compensations that await those 
who have braved the dangers of the battle field, in defence of 
that priceless inheritance it was the aim, but not within the 
power, of treason to wrest from our hands. 

"But I will not add another word to prolong the interval that 
separates you from the tender recognition of waiting friends. 

" After the delivery of the address was concluded, Colonel 
Kimball replied, in behalf of his regiment, giving a history of its 
operations since leaving 'Camp Stevens' eight months ago. His 
reply was a simple statement of the marches, and experiences of 
the men under his command. He felt proud of his men ; they 
had met his expectations in every respect. He paid a just tribute 


to the noble patriots who had fallen by disease and in battle. 
We regret that we are not able to give his remarks in full, for not 
one in ten were able to get near the speaker during the delivery. 

" After the remarks were concluded the colonel called upon 
his command to give three cheers for their flag, which were given 
with a will. Gilmore's Band, which was upon the speaker's 
stand, then struck up " Home, Sweet Home," in their own bril- 
liant style. After which the procession was reformed in the 
following order :— Chief Marshal and aids, cavalcade from Leom- 
inster, numbering some eighty horses, under the command of 
Captain Wood ; Boston Brigade Band ; Fitchburg Fusiliers, under 
the command of M. Edwin Day; Washington Guards, under the 
command of Lieutenant Lawrence; Ashburnham Guards, under 
the command of Captain Asahel Wheeler of Ashburnham, headed 
by the Ashburnham Band ; followed by fire companies from 
Pepperell and Templeton, and the Fitchburg Fire Department, 
under the command of Chief Engineer Aldrich, headed by the 
Germania Band of Boston. A drum corps of juveniles, number- 
ing some twenty or more, under the direction of Professor E. H. 
Frost, followed by citizens, the committee of arrangements, pre- 
ceded by Gilmore's Band, orator and chaplain. The Fifty-third 
Regiment, headed by Colonel Kimball and staff. 

"The procession then marched up Main street, both sides of 
the street being lined with people, eager to catch a glimpse of the 
war-worn heroes of Bisland and Port Hudson. In the procession 
were displayed banners inscribed with appropriate mottoes. The 
battle-flag of the Fifty-third Regiment, with the words ' Bisland ' 
and ' Port Hudson ' inscribed upon it, waved proudly in the ranks, 
though it was sadly rent and torn by the bullets of the foe. On 
reaching the common in front of the Unitarian church the regi- 
ment partook of a bountiful collation prepared by the ladies. 
After their appetites had been appeased, the crowds of friends 
mingled with the soldiers and exchanged congratulations with 

"An exceedingly pleasing incident occurred here. Mrs. 
Jennie Kempton, the lady who sang to the regiment in New 


York, previous to their departure for New Orleans in December 
last, was introduced to the returned soldiers by Colonel Kimball, 
and sang to them a welcome home. The soldiers greeted her 
with cheers of welcome, and they will carry her image in their 
hearts in the years to come. It was one of the pleasing incidents 
of the day, and we know the heartfelt joy of those bronzed and 
war-worn heroes well repaid her for her kindness in adding her 
sweet voice to their ' welcome home.' 

"The regiment was escorted from the common to the park 
near the depot by the military organizations, where the men 
were furloughed one week, to report at ' Camp Stevens ' August 

The regiment assembled at Camp Stevens according to 
orders August 31st. The making of muster out rolls and 
also pay rolls occupied that and the two following days, 
and the regiment was duly mustered out of the United 
States service on September 2d, 1863, by Captain J. R. 
Lawrence, U. S. A. 
The number of officers and men mustered out at 

this date was 710 

Killed in battle and died of wounds, 33 

Died of disease, 132 

Discharged, 53 

Deserted, 22 

Original strength of regiment, 950 

It will be noticed that in the short space of ten months 
the regiment lost by death over one-sixth of its entire 
number. The deaths by disease were something frightful. 
The writer finds upon investigation of the records that of 


all the Massachusetts regiments, both of long and short 
terms, only four lost more men by disease than this regi- 
ment during their whole term of service. 

The service of the regiment was as honorable as that 
of any one that ever left the state. Its term of service 
was comparatively short, but in efficiency it was equal to 
the average three years regiments. While it was made up 
of an exceptionally fine class of men, few of them, officers 
or privates, had ever had any military experience. But 
they selected for their commander a veteran officer of long 
experience in the militia, and whose sixteen months' ex- 
perience in the field, with the ordeal of many hard fought 
battles, had brought the necessary training for a successful 
leader. The men believed in him, and would follow 
wherever he would lead. The officers under whose com- 
mand he came, trusted him ; for his record of previous 
service was well known to them. His ability as a discipli- 
narian, his conscientious loyalty to the cause for which we 
fought, his interest in his men, his courage in battle, did 
much to make the regiment what it became under his 
leadership. The writer would do injustice to him, and to 
his own feelings as well, if he said less than this. 

In such a leader and so fine a body of men the com- 
munities which sent them forth have always had a just 
pride, and it is believed that the generation which has 
grown up in these northern Massachusetts towns since the 
war will take no less interest in the foregoing record of 
their loyalty, sufferings, and gallant deeds. 


The nine months militia regiments after their muster out from 
the United States service still held their organizations until the 
close of the war and the subsequent re-organization of the militia 
of the state. In the summer of 1864 the government called upon 
the governor of Massachusetts for five thousand troops for one 
hundred days' service, and the following order was issued : 

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 

Headquarters, Boston, July 6, 1864. 

General Orders No. 24. 

Five thousand infantry volunteers have been called for from 
Massachusetts, for one hundred days' service, to do garrison duty 
in the fortifications near the city of Washington. Their services 
are required at once. Officers in command of regiments and 
companies of Massachusetts militia will immediately perfect their 
organizations and report for orders. 

Gentlemen not in commission, qualified by character and ex- 
perience to command companies, will be authorized to raise new 
companies upon application to these headquarters. 

These troops are to be employed in garrison duty, and must 
be raised without unnecessary delay. The troops can be for- 
warded by companies to report at Washington. 

In addition to the United States pay, each non-commissioned 
officer and private will receive from the commonwealth, twenty 
dollars a month during his term of service. 

Volunteers under this call will be exempted from any draft 
that may be ordered during such term of one hundred days' 

The young men of Massachusetts are expected to respond to 
this call with the same alacritv which characterized their fathers 


in the Revolution, and their brothers when the president made 
his first call in April, 1861. 

By order of His Excellency, 

John A. Andrew, 
Governor and Commander-in-Chief. 
[Signed] William Schouler, 

Adjutant- General. 

Upon receipt of this order Colonel Kimball issued the fol- 
lowing order : 

Headquarters Fifty-third Regiment M. V. M. 

Fitchburg, July 7, 1864. 
Special Order No. i. 

A call has been made upon the governor of Massachusetts 
for five thousand militia for one hundred days' service. The Fifty- 
third Regiment is wanted. In accordance with General Orders 
No. 24 from the commander-in-chief, the colonel commanding 
hereby requests the commanders of companies to report immedi- 
ately to these headquarters the condition of their respective 
commands, and the time probably necessary to recruit their com- 
panies to the minimum eighty-three men, as no company will be 
mustered into service with a less number. 

The assurance of the adjutant-general is given, that the duty 
to be performed is garrison duty and that volunteers under this 
call will be exempted from .any draft which may be ordered dur- 
ing the term of one hundred days' service. Commanders are re- 
quested to report in person if possible at the Fitchburg Hotel on 
Saturday next, at 2 o'clock P. M., or if not present in person to 
report by letter previous to that time. 

It is hoped that both the officers and men of a regiment 
which gained so honorable a reputation in the campaign of 1863, 
will be prompt to respond to this last call and thus once again 
prove their devotion to the cause of justice and freedom. 

By order of 

Colonel John VY. Kimball. 
H. A. Willis, Adjutant. 


Pursuant to the foregoing order the officers of the regiment 
assembled in Fitchburg July 9th, 1864, for consultation, and the 
result of the conference was the following letter to Adjutant- 
General Schouler : 

Fitchburg, July 9, 1864. 
Brigadier-General William Schouler, A. G. 

Dear Sir: — Pursuant to General Order No. 24 the officers of 
my regiment were convened this day to take into consideration 
the question of tendering the services of the regiment for one 
hundred days. After hearing the reports of the company com- 
manders in relation to the number who would volunteer, it was 
decided that the regiment could not probably be filled to the 
minimum within the brief time allowed. 

I would say that there was a strong disposition manifested on 
the part of the officers to go, but the very much reduced number 
of the regiment, together with the fact of the busy season of the 
year with a large majority of them, ( being scattered through an 
agricultural district,) induced strong doubts as to the probability 
of getting the men out. But it was their unanimous opinion that, 
should an emergency arise which resulted in ordering the regiment 
into service, their men would be prompt to respond. In such an 
event about five hundred of the old members could probably be 
relied upon, and I have no doubt the regiment could be filled up 
in a very few days. 

I will forward my report in accordance with General Order 
No. 22 in a few days. I have the honor to remain, 

Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

John W. Kimball, Colonel. 

Nothing further occurred under this call and the foregoing 
orders were the last the regiment ever received until it was dis- 


Fifty-Third Massachusetts Volunteers. 


Age. Mustered out. 

l86 3 . 

Colonel, John W. Kimball, Fitchburg, 34 Sept. 2 

Lie ut. -Colonel, George H. Barrett, Ashburnham, 28 Sept. 2 

Major, James A. Pratt, Sterling, 34 Sept. 2 

Adjutant, Henry A. Willis, Fitchburg, 32 Sept. 2 

Surgeon, John Q. A. McCollester, Groton, 31 Sept. 2 

Asst. Surgeon, William L. Bond, Charlestown, 34 Sept. 2 

Asst. Surgeon, William B. Barrett, Fitchburg, 40 Sept. 2 

Quartermaster, Edward A. Brown, Royalston, 32 Sept. 2 

Chaplain, Benjamin F. Whittemore, Berlin, 38 Sept. 2 
Sergeant Major, Harlan P. Partridge, Fitchburg, 22 Sept. 2 
Q.M. Sergeant, Herman M. Partridge, Royalston, 30 Sept. 2 

Com. Sergeant, James R. Brown, Barre, 34 Sept. 2 

Hospital Steward, Charles G. Allen, Barre, 28 Sept. 2 

Drum Major, Edwin D. Atherton, Fitchburg, 29 Sept. 2 

Fife Major, James M. Lewis, Leominster, 22 Sept. 2 



























Jan. 23, 1863, resigned. 
Died of wounds, May 27, 1863. 
Died of wounds, July 2, 1863. 
Killed in action, April 13, 18(53. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Captain, June 10, 18*53. 
May 13, 1863, resigned. 
Serrt. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Captain, May 21, 1863. 
First Lieutenant, June 10, 1863. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept, 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died, Aug. 14, '63, Ft. Schuyler, N.Y. 
Second Lieutenant, May 21, 18(53. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 18(53, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 18(53, expiration of service 
Sept. 2, 18(53, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Jan. 15, 1S63, disability. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Transferred to N. C. S., Dec. 17, '(52 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died, Jan. 16, 18(53, New York. 
Died, Apr. 20, '(53, New Orleans, La 
Sept. 2, 18(53, expiration of service. 




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S C3 C « 

Eugene T. Miles, Captain . 
George H. Bailey, Captain . 
Jerome K. Taft, Captain . 
George G. Nutting, First Lieutem 
Henry T. Pratt, First Lieutenant 
Jerome K. Taft, First Lieutenant 
Daniel W. Tuttle, Second Lieute r 
Frederick A. Hale, Second Lieute 
William B. Chaney, First Sergean 
George H. Bailey, First Sergeant 
Jerome K. Taft, Sergeant . 
Albert D. Tourtellott, Sergeant . 
Ephraim E. Farrar, Sergeant . 
Merrill Carlton, Sergeant 
William H. Simonds, Sergeant 
Frederick A. Hale, Corporal 
John F. Bruce, Corporal 
P. Charles Connor, Corporal 
James P. Bartlett, Corporal 
Andrew J. Green, Corporal . 
Gilbert D. Kendall, Corporal . 
Francis N. Ray, Corporal 
Edward H. Sjiencer, Corporal . 
Charles F. Russell, Corporal 
William H. Eaton, Corporal 
Charles W. Carter, Musician 
Edwin I). Atherton, Musician . 
Alvord, Francis A. 
Barnum, Alonzo P. 
Bartlett, Thomas . 
Bardeen, William S. . 
Battles, Charles P. 
Bemis, Daniel W. ... 


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Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Kept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died, June 30, '63, Baton Rouge, La. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died, Jan. 13, 1863, New York. 
Died, Maf. 29, '63, Baton Rouge, La. 
March 4, 1863, disability. 
July, 24, 1863, re-enlistment. 
Sept. 2. 1863, expiration of service. 
July 23, 1863, re-enlistment. 
Killed. June 14, 1S63, Port Hudson. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1S63, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2. 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Killed, June 14, *63, Port Hudson, La. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Jan. 15, 1863, disability. 
Died, Aug. 5, '63, New Orleans, La. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 





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Chapman, William A. 
Churchill, Absolom W. 
Davis, Ancil 
Davis, Charles B. . . 
Dunlap, William 
Dutton, Clark . 
Erving, John 
Fairbanks, Charles F. . 
Farmer, William 
Flaherty, Maurice . 
Fletcher, Albert W. . 
Fletcher, Isaac W. 
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Holden, Robertus F. 
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Humiston, Samuel G. 
Jefts, Leander C. 
Kimball, Dennison S. 
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Sejit. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Deserted, Jan. 16, 18<>3, New York. 
Sept. 2, 18ii:!, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 18(>3, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 18(>3, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Killed, June 2, 1863, Port Hudson. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2. 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died at sea, Aug. 8, 1863. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died, Dec. 1, 1862, Groton, Mass. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died, Mav 29, 1st;:;, of wounds. 
Killed, June 14, 1863, Port Hudson. 
Sept. 2, 18i;.">, expiiation of'service. 
Died, July 2, '63, Baton Rouge, La. 
Killed, June 14, "t>3, Port Hudson. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Killed. June 14, '(>.">, Port Hudson. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863) expiration of service. 
Died. June 7. 'ii:'.. Berwick Bay, La. 


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K r\ m rHiMiir: m <m ci ?i ~\ ~\ ~i ti ri n ri ^ -i -h -- ci ?i ih -m -.-. 55 - 1 cm ?i cm r- 


Chamberlin, Sanford E. 
Clark, John F. 
Cook, Charles E. 
Drury, Horace 
Elliott, Ezra F. . 
Edwards. George H. 
Elliott. Nathan . 
Fairbanks, Warren P. 
Fales, Edward A. 
Fessenden, William C. 
Fessenden, Willard B. 
Fields, William H. 
Furbush, Walter A. . 
Gates, Augustus S. 
Gates, George W. 
Goddard, Sextus P. 
Hamilton, Samuel S. . 
Hapgood, Charles F. 
Heald, Henry N. 
Hemenway, Daniel P. 
Heyward, Phineas. 2d 
Hiuchcliffe, William 
Hodges, Joel 

Jameson, Nelson W. 
Jeiinison, John F. 
Johnson, Martin L. 
Kcmpton, (Jeorge M. . 
Kennedy, John 
King, Charles V. B. . 
Knights, George 
Lilley, Frederick S. . 
Lindsey, Henry H. 
Lippett. Dwight . 


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Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
July 23, 1863, Special Order 179. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept, 2, 1863, expiration of sen ice. 
Sept. 2, INi;.",, expiration of service. 
Died, April is, 1863, Baton Rouge. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 18li.">, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died, Aug. 2, 1863, Baton Rouge. 
Died, July 23, 1863, Baton Rouge. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died. July 19, 1863, Baton Rouge. 
June 27. 1863, disability. 
Died, .Mar. 23, 1863, Baton Rouge. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died, Aug, 4, 1863, Baton Rouge. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Died, July 2, '<>•'!, Brashear City, La. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, 1863, expiration of service. 
Sept. 2, ISii.'!. expiration of service. 


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ONHJ5HXI>h»;}ij; CHHt-Xf t-[-)!X»'*i."'- u~ X l~ ^* X X -»* 



Coburn, Charles E. 
Coller, Edward N. 
Coleman, Oliver B. 
Conant, Levi W. 
Cushnian, Samuel F. 
Dyer, Peter . 
Earle, James . 
Fitzgerald, Patrick 
Flagg, Levi . 
Flint, Eleazer T. 
Flint, William M. . 
Gates, William 
Gorman, Isaac 
Greenwood, Edson A. 
Hale, Hobart S. 
Handy, Jonathan 
Harding, Darius H. 
Hastings, Samuel H. . 
Higgins, Charles W. 
Hill, Josiah . 
Hill, Theodore J. . 
Hubbard, Timothy F. 
Kidder, Henry W. 
Lamb, Joshua H. 
Lamb, Leandcr W. 
Maynard, Edward S. . 
McLannan, Donald 
Mitchell, John 
Moore, Dexter . 
Murdock, Leandcr L. 
Newton, James E. . 
Norcross, Alson ., Salmon 


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